Churches speak up for Hannah Brock Womack

Methodist Conference supports United Reform Church statement

The Methodist Church has joined the United Reform Church in expressing support for Quaker Hannah Brock Womack, who was blocked from fully being the representative of the Fourth Presidency Group of Churches Together in England (CTE) because she is married to a woman.

The 2020 Methodist Conference passed a motion on 1 July supporting a statement from the United Reform Church (URC) issued in November 2019 which noted with deep sadness CTE’s decision. The Notice of Motion also supported a resolution made by URC Youth which condemned CTE’s decision, saying it felt ‘outraged and underrepresented by the CTE’ and calling for ‘a more just outcome’. 

The reverend Paul Parker (Cornwall and Scilly Isles district), who is not the same person as the recording clerk for Britain Yearly Meeting, spoke to the Methodist Conference motion. ‘It strikes me as unjust and prejudiced that CTE can cooperate across millennial-long schisms but Hannah’s marriage to a woman is a barrier to enacting her role to which she was duly elected. I am delighted that we as Methodists try to model living with contradictory convictions particularly on marriage and sexuality.’

Hannah Bock Womack thanked URC Youth for its resolution and greeted the URC as friends when she spoke at a digital meeting of the General Assembly, the URC’s main decision-making body, on 11 July.

The reverend Philip Brooks, URC secretary for Ecumenical and Interfaith Relations, said: ‘Whilst ecumenical partners might differ in terms of their understanding of marriage, the important issue for our unity is that we can be fully inclusive of each other’s representatives and leaders within the diverse membership of CTE.’

The Methodist Church in their Notice of Motion celebrates the valuable work of CTE and flexible approach to new partnerships; but expresses dismay that the CTE Enabling Group asked the Fourth Group to refrain from the duly elected president – Hannah Brock Womack – taking her seat, because of her same-sex marriage. It encourages CTE to allow the Quaker to take up the position.

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