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Elk Grove Methodists Pressing Church To Change Same-Sex Marriage Stance

ELK GROVE (CBS13) — Churchgoers are pressuring leaders of the United Methodist Church to reverse course across the country.

Many may know Mark Hedlund as a former Sacramento TV news reporter. He's currently a lay leader at the Elk Grove United Methodist Church.

"This language is wrong, it is abject discrimination, and we will not abide by it," he said about the church's current stance on marrying same sex couples.

"The Book of Discipline tells us to love everyone regardless of ethnicity, race, sexual orientation, etc." he said.

But currently the rules of the Methodist Church forbid the marrying of same-sex couples.

Local Methodist leaders are pressing for change and applying that pressure to church leaders by drafting what's called a "declaration of inclusion."

"Because we are committed to the mandates of inclusion, we must reject those of exclusion," said retired pastor Rev. Don Fado.

Some local Methodist churches have been marrying same-sex couples for a few months, and now 49 churches from seven states have signed onto the declaration of inclusion.

"It's especially joyful, I think, because they've been denied these weddings for so long," said Elk Grove Rev. Kathy LaPoint-Collup. "It meant so much to have our friends around us, to be able to share communion, and the whole sacrament and everything."

Becky Salmon legally married her wife in 2008, and when her church in Placerville started offering ceremonies to gay couples, they renewed their vows.

"They've been nothing by welcome to us," she said.

This group says they'll push for what they call a separation of church and hate at June's annual California-Nevada conference.

"Jesus reached out to those who were not fully accepted by others during his time," Hedlund said. "He did not create second-class citizens."

The next update to the Book of Discipline isn't expected until 2016.

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