Augustana College in Rock Island just announced it is changing its policy to allow same sex union ceremonies at its campus chapel. But, Illinois Wesleyan University in Bloomington has quietly been doing that same thing for about a year now. IWU has a long standing tradition and relationship with the United Methodist Church, which last summer affirmed a stance that does not recognize same sex unions and bans clergy from participating in such ceremonies. Campus Chaplain Elyse Nelson-Winger adroitly declined to answer whether there has been any push back from the denomination.
"You know we made this decision based on Illinois Wesleyan's longstanding commitment to same sex couples both through our employment practices and our benefits and our mission statement
She says the chapel is reserved for religious observances, so ceremonies must be performed by clergy whose denominations allow them to perform blessings and unions, not United Methodists. She says "the University is committed to being a welcoming and inclusive place where all people are respected and have dignity and where we work to live out the kind of commitments for social justice and diversity that we lift up in our mission statement."
"The Illinois law enabled us to expand our commitment to same sex couples including the blessing of their relationship."
Nelson-Winger says same sex couples that have booked the chapel for their ceremonies have been appreciative and grateful
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