The largest Mennonite denomination in the country says it will now permit pastors to officiate same-sex weddings.
Delegates of Mennonite Church USA met last month at a conference in Kansas City, Missouri to vote on two measures.
The first vote was to retire the 20-year-old Membership Guidelines that described "homosexual, extramarital and premarital sexual activity" as immoral and sinful. That vote passed 404-84 with three abstentions, according to MC USA.
The second vote approved a "Repentance and Transformation" resolution that highlights the supposed harm caused by previous policies as violence. That measure received a vote of 267 in favor, 212 against, and nine abstentions.
"Excluding LGBTQIA people from the church is a rejection of God's joyous delight in the diversity of creation and a denial of the Divine image and breath animating all humankind," the resolution reads.
"This weekend, we did the demanding work of struggling together as the body of Christ," said MC USA Executive Director Glen Guyton. "We will continue to live into our Renewed Commitments of following Jesus, witnessing to God's peace and helping those we encounter to experience the transforming power of the Holy Spirit."
Several days prior to MC USA voting on amending the guidelines, Guyton stated that churches can decide on their own whether or not to honor it.
"Congregations have the final authority to hire and fire their pastors as they see fit," Guyton noted. "Conferences have broad latitude in determining membership and credentialing."
He added, "Pastors in MC USA are always free to not perform any wedding. Inclusion and the membership status of LGTBQ individuals varies widely by conference and congregations."
Methodists Split Over LGBT Issues in Georgia
Meanwhile, dozens of churches in Georgia recently split from the United Methodist Church (UMC) over disputes related to LGBTQ issues.
The 2022 UMC North Georgia Annual Conference approved a vote to disaffiliate 70 congregations on June 2. That represents nine percent of the congregations in the Conference and three percent of its membership, according to the denomination.
Following the vote, Bishop Sue Haupert-Johnson and members prayed for the departing churches.
"Bless these congregations as they depart," the bishop said. "I pray that we will be partners in ministry, and you will do your mighty work of healing division and overcoming rifts."
The official date of the disaffiliation will take place on June 30.
"Our denomination has a clear process for disaffiliation, and we are walking alongside the churches that want to take this path," Conference communications director Sybil Davidson told Atlanta-based WSB-TV.
"While we do not wish to see any church disaffiliate, we are committed to a clear and healthy process. Our hearts are with those who desire for their congregation to remain a part of the denomination, and also with those who choose to leave," she added.
CBN News reported last month that conservatives parted ways with UMC after years of debate on same-sex marriage and the ordination of openly gay pastors. The new denomination, called the Global Methodist Church, took effect shortly after the departure.