Methodist clergy stand up for marriage equality

More and more Methodist clergy are standing up for marriage equality and the momentum continues to grow.  Retired seminary president, Rev. William McElvaney, said that he is willing to officiate at the weddings of gay and lesbian couples. The 85-year-old former president of St. Paul School of Theology made the statement at Northaven United Methodist Church in Dallas. He called church trials “the Methodist version of inquisition in the 20th and 21st centuries. After a Federal Judge struck down a ban on marriage equality in Oklahoma, a group of Methodists in favor of marriage equality placed ads in the Tulsa World and The Oklahoman celebrating the ruling and inviting people to The Methodist Church. Yesterday GLAAD shared the story of Rev.Thomas Ogletree who will be on trial for officiating at the wedding of his son to the man he loves.

“The defrocking of Frank Schaefer brought great shame to our denomination and much pain to our LGBTQ brothers and sisters,” said Bishop Minerva G. Carcano of the California-Pacific Conference of the United Methodist Church.

“It saddens me and many others that we continue to use trials as a way of addressing this. It does not look good at all,” she said.

She sees the growing movement challenging church policy as a turning point.

“People are stepping up and expressing what they feel in ways I have not seen before,” she said. “It is a moment of real possibility for change in the church.”

Carcano’s comments follow the Jan. 17 news that a second United Methodist pastor faces a church trial for officiating at the wedding of his son to another man. The Rev. Thomas Ogletree, 80, retired pastor and former Yale Divinity School dean, faces a March 10 trial in Stamford, Conn.

The Rev. Bill Bouknight, associate director of the Confessing Movement, an evangelical group, said church trials are necessary to hold clergy accountable.

“The developments sadden us because they are clearly contrary to Scripture and to doctrines of the United Methodist Church,” said Bouknight, a retired pastor who lives in Columbia, S.C.

Bishop Melvin Talbert, the only bishop known to have presided at a same-sex marriage, said the number of people challenging what he considers unjust church law encourages him.

“Biblical obedience means we decide to do the right thing no matter what,” he said.

As we continue to witness people stand for their faith as well as their LGBT friends and family, it will only be a matter of time that church leaders will see that love is love and know that the LGBT community is a community made up of many people who love their church as much as they love and care about their fellow church members. This is the message all houses of worship should follow.

Religion News Service has more on the story.

GLAAD will continue to keep you informed about the tremendous support growing for the LGBT community and marriage equality within the Methodist church.