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Do Brethren marry?

Timothy Kincaid

August 20th, 2013

There is an article on centredaily.com about the mayor of State College, Pennsylvania, hosting same sex marriages for licenses issued by Montgomery County clerk Bruce Hanes. It’s a nice piece, but I did a double-take when I read the following:

The couple, from Bushkill, Pike County, were married Monday morning at the home of State College Mayor Elizabeth Goreham. They received a marriage license in Montgomery County on Thursday and immediately made arrangements for the ceremony.

Davis and Scalzo were married by the Rev. Ken Kline Smeltzer, from a local Church of the Brethren.

This caught me by surprise. It was not my impression that ministers with the Church of the Brethren could officiate at same-sex marriages.

The Church of the Brethren is one of the three historic pacifist churches (Quakers and Mennonites being the other two). There are about 1,000 churches with about a quarter of a million congregants, mostly in Pennsylvania and the Virginias. They believe in simplicity in worship and life, service to others, sole adherence to the New Testament, and originate from an evangelical tradition.

They also are non-hierarchal and believe in a “priesthood of all believers”. Yet even though congregations tend to be autonomous, this is a rather aggressive step outside the proclaimed shared doctrine. It will be interesting to see if Rev. Smelter’s decision is accepted as a matter of “unity in diversity” or whether some within the denomination will seek to restrain the officiation at same-sex marriages.

Comments

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The Lauderdale
August 20th, 2013 | LINK

I confess myself ignorant about The Church of the Brethren, but Wikipedia lists them as a example of a traditionally conservative or orthodox organization that *is* supportive. That’s Wikipedia, though, with all the skepticism that warrants.

“Religious arguments for and against marriage rights for same-sex couples are not always evenly divided among theologically conservative religious groups and liberal groups. While self-identified theological liberal organizations such as the Religious Society of Friends (Quakers), support marriage equality, other more conservative and or orthodox organizations including some Mennonite churches, the Church of the Brethren, the Old Catholic Church,[24] and the Church of Sweden[25] also support marriage rights for gay and lesbian persons.[26]”

Hunter
August 21st, 2013 | LINK

Something else struck me in your description: Imagine: Christians who adhere to the New Testament. Who knew?

Snow
August 29th, 2013 | LINK

There is a small, vocal group pushing LGBT acceptance inside the Church of the Brethren, but the denomination as a whole has not changed its stance, and does not currently support gay marriage.

Anyone can edit Wikipedia, and apparently someone with an agenda did just that.

Daki
September 25th, 2013 | LINK

“Pastor fired after marrying Pike County gay couple in State College”:
http://www.poconorecord.com/apps/pbcs.dll/article?AID=/20130924/NEWS90/130929875/-1/rss01

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