More than 200 United Methodist clergy in Illinois have pledged to flout church policy and bless unions for same-sex couples, putting their jobs, homes and callings in jeopardy if couples take advantage of their offer.

Methodists in the Northern Illinois Conference also called on the global church to impose no more than a 24-hour suspension for clergy who defy the policy.

Elders, deacons and pastors took their stand after civil unions in Illinois became legal this month. But they said their determination to support same-sex unions has been fueled further by a church trial last week in which a jury found a Wisconsin pastor guilty of performing a holy union for a lesbian couple, suspending her for 20 days.

“Unfortunately the church has lost its prophetic voice on this issue,” said the Rev. Gregory Gross, a deacon who organized the campaign. “Our civil society has taken the lead. Now the church is trying to catch up.”

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