A national conference has recommended that The Community of Christ Church change its policies on same-sex issues.
The conference recommended Sunday that the Independence-based church recognize same-sex marriages where they are legal in the U.S. The conference also says the church should offer commitment services for same-sex couples where marriage is not legal and allow priesthood regardless of sexual orientation.
The states where special ceremonies will be offered include Missouri and Kansas where same-sex marriages are banned. Other states such as Iowa allow them.
About 1,500 delegates met in Independence after the church's World Conference last week and issued their recommendations Sunday. The church's leaders need to approve the changes before they take effect.
Jane Gardner was part of the delegation that made the decision Sunday. Gardner has a gay son, who cheered the decision.
"He's thrilled as is my daughter who's been a big advocate for her brother," a beaming Gardner said. "Both of them have just been texting and emailing me and saying, 'Oh, my gosh, this is wonderful!'"
It will take about a year for the rules to be finalized.
The Independence Examiner reports the policy changes would apply only to the 800 U.S. churches. Community of Christ has nearly 250,000 members in about 50 nations. The policies would not change in other countries.
However, Community of Christ churches in Canada and Australia already perform same-sex ceremonies.
The discussion about the change has been several years in the making and included an intense discussion over several days last week.
"What it says about the church is we believe in the worth of all persons and we believe everyone is welcome at the table. Therefore the change in these policies in a year's time will make that difference," Linda Booth, president of the Community of Christ's Council of Twelve Apostles, said. "This is where God's calling us to be: a people of inclusion, a people of love."
Copyright 2013 KCTV (Meredith Corp.) and the Associated Press. All rights reserved.
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