SACRAMENTO, Feb. 21 (UPI) -- A group of United Methodist churches in the western United States is pushing to change the denomination's position on same-sex marriage.
The move, which began with three churches in the Sacramento area, now includes 30 congregations, the Sacramento Bee reported. They have adopted a "declaration of inclusion" that says "no one will be denied the services of our church because of sexual orientation."
The declaration appears to be aimed at the church's next General Conference, to be held in 2016 in Portland, Ore. The congregations that have signed on want to change the church's Book of Discipline, which now describes homosexuality as "incompatible with Christian teaching."
The church has been inconsistent on same-sex marriage. In Pennsylvania, a Methodist minister who presided at his son's same-sex wedding was defrocked when he refused to say he would never celebrate another gay marriage, but on the West Coast ministers have faced little or no sanction.
Don Fado, retired as pastor of St. Mark's United Methodist Church in Carmichael, Calif., said two Washington state ministers were suspended for a single day for celebrating gay weddings.
Like other mainline denominations, Methodists have seen a drop in membership in the past 20 years in the United States. About 30 percent of Methodists worldwide now live in Africa and the Philippines, where attitudes towards homosexuality are more conservative, creating tension in the global church.