A church in North Carolina is taking a unique stance on marriage equality by refusing to perform any weddings or sign marriage licenses until it is legal for same-sex couples to marry in the state.
Green Street United Methodist Church in Winston-Salem, N.C., is purportedly the first church in the South to halt weddings over this matter. The church council announced its decision last week, and an interview with its pastor aired Monday.
In the interview, Pastor Kelly Carpenter said that heterosexual members of his congregation wanted same sex couples to "share a sense of the love that they have found," and that wanting to share this love with other Methodists is "a very powerful, inspiring thing."
Council members at Green Street Church have been asked only to perform relationship blessings for the time being, which would not include an exchange of rings or vows.
The United Methodist Church not only prohibits its pastors from performing same-sex marriage ceremonies, but also bans gay and lesbian people form serving as clergy.
The church also released a statement explaining its decision.
"North Carolina prohibits same sex marriage and all the rights and privileges marriage brings," the statement reads. "The Leadership Council has asked that their ministers join others who refuse to sign any state marriage licenses until this right is granted to same sex couples."
Carpenter said that his church is continuing to diversify, and it now has over 15 same-sex couples. He said he would honor the church council's request.
"The United Methodist Church, like many other churches, is struggling with language within the denomination," he said. "In 2012, there were many attempts to change all the language within the discipline around the issues around gay and lesbian people, and all of those attempts seemed to fail. But the percentage of the way in which those votes are taken is narrowing, and I think eventually it will tip over and be more inclusive of the gay and lesbian folks in our denomination."
The church's statement went on to say that "the church sees injustice in the legal position of state government and the theological position of our denomination."
With these views, Green Street United Methodist Church hopes to lead its denomination to recognize and promote equality nationwide.