To the Mississippi Conference,
I send to you holy greetings while I am on renewal leave. I write to you in the wake of last week’s decision by the Supreme Court that same-sex marriage is legal in all states and the District of Columbia of the United States.
I realize that this decision was met with different reactions by United Methodists throughout our conference. I ask that as you respond to this decision that your response be grounded in a sound interpretation of the ruling handed down by the Supreme Court as explained in the written decision. The question that I believe is foremost upon the minds and hearts of United Methodist clergy and laity is, "How does this affect our church's official position on same sex-marriage?" A very simple answer is, it does not. Only the General Conference can make a change to our position.
This is affirmed even in the Supreme Court's decision. I would direct your attention to page 27 of the decision where the court points out "... It is to be emphasized that religions, and those who adhere to religious doctrines, may continue to advocate with utmost, sincere conviction that, by divine precepts, same-sex marriage should not be condoned."
In making this statement, the Supreme Court of the United States recognizes that obviously the First Amendment protects religious organizations’ "rights" to teach our principals in accordance with our beliefs.
I am committed to that and to doing so with love, grace and humility. I trust that we all can have the same spirit.
Yours in Christ,
Bishop James E. Swanson, Sr.
In addition to this statement, the Council of Bishops Executive Committee has also released a statement.