“Failed clergy of dying churches are attempting to jump on the latest fad. Trying to seem relevant, they instead look silly.” – UM Action Executive Director Mark Tooley

Washington, DC—In the wake of the California Supreme Court’s legalization of same-sex marriage, more than 80 retired Southern California clergy from the United Methodist Church are offering to perform same-sex marriages, the Sacramento Bee is reporting. The ministers made their agreement during the annual meeting last weekend for the California-Pacific Conference of United Methodist Church. Meanwhile, a small United Methodist congregation in Santa Monica, called the Church at Ocean Park, is hosting a “love celebration” this Sunday, July 6 for couples of any sexual preference who want to marry.

The United Methodist Book of Discipline—church law—forbids churches and clergy, both active and retired, from performing same-sex unions. If disciplined, the clergy could be defrocked. However, retired clergy are much less likely to face church discipline.

The California-Pacific Conference of United Methodism is one of the denomination’s most liberal and fastest declining regions, having lost about half its members over the last 40 years, while California’s population has boomed. Less than 3 percent of the United Methodist Church in the U.S. lives in California.

UM Action Executive Director Mark Tooley commented:

Having long since abdicated their responsibility as evangelists and predictably left with dwindling flocks as a result, many retired California United Methodist clergy are now offering to spend their golden years performing same-sex ‘marriages’.

These retired clergy are turning their backs on two-thousand years of church belief and practice as well as the United Methodist Discipline they agreed to uphold as part of their ordination vows. As failed clergy of dying churches, they are attempting to jump on the latest fad. Trying to seem relevant, they instead look silly.

When churches attempt to transform their surrounding culture with the Gospel, they thrive. When churches surrender to popular fashion, they become increasingly inconsequential. Much of United Methodism in California has sadly proved this.

The Institute on Religion and Democracy, founded in 1981, is an ecumenical alliance of U.S. Christians working to reform their churches’ social witness, in accord with biblical and historic Christian teachings, thereby contributing to the renewal of democratic society at home and abroad.