Pastor fired for participating in step-daughter's wedding

Brett Hadley a Seventh-Day Adventist minister, school chaplain, Bible teacher and Campus Ministries director at Highland View Academy in Hagerstown, Maryland, has been forced to resign his position because he attended the wedding of his step-daughter and her wife in Bellingham, Washington. Hadley also signed the marriage license.

Spectrum tells the full story:

On November 26, the Chesapeake Conference issued a press release stating that Highland View Academy had placed Hadley on administrative leave for an unspecified length of time “because Chaplain Hadley participated in a same-sex ceremony, signed the marriage license as the officiant, and misrepresented his role when asked about it—calling into question his ability to serve as the spiritual leader of our school.”

In an email of clarification, a spokesperson for the conference stated that while Hadley admitted participating in a dinner, he denied attending a wedding ceremony or officiating one.

Concurrently, a letter identical to the press release, save the introductory paragraph, went out to parents of Highland View Academy students. The letter bore the name of HVA board chairman Rick Remmers.

According to HVA freshman Caleb Atherly, students received news of Hadley’s suspension that day as well.

“The president of the conference told us the day of Thanksgiving break.  At first I was in pure shock,” Atherly said. “Then I grew depressed at the concept of me never seeing him again, and losing a wonderful drama and Bible teacher. Students were sitting there with their mouths gaping in horror. Some were crying, others had very angry looks on their faces.”

Rande Moss, the step-daughter of Brett Hadley has also spoken out about having Hadley attend and participate in her wedding. "Our wedding was the sweetest most love-filled day I could have imagined and it is devastating to see it picked apart by commenters as if our marriage wasn't deserving of respect and recognition," Moss stated. "I have so much love and gratitude for my mom and stepdad for supporting us in the way that they do. Brett is an extraordinary parent, husband, pastor and teacher and I understand why he has students standing up in support of him. I only hope something good will come of this."

The Seventh-Day Adventist Church's relationship with LGBT people has been well documented in the film Seventh-Gay Adventists, which followed three gay and lesbian people struggling to find their place within the denomination. Last year, Pastor Ryan Bell was fired from his congregation for being too affirming of LGBT people.

The denomination continues to push LGBT people, as well as their friends and family away. Dave Ferguson, Director of Church Relations for the Seventh-Day Adventist LGBT organization, Kinship, was one of the many who reacted and responded to Hadley's dismissal. In a letter to the principle of Highland View Academy, Ferguson writes, in part:

As a former pastor who focused on youth and young adults, I have seen an increasing number of our members leave the Church because they believe it is more interested in upholding a position than in caring for and loving members of the church family. I believe that concept is reinforced when such actions are taken against a beloved pastor and spiritual leader on the campus, whose only transgression is love.

GLAAD is working with Rande Moss and a variety of Seventh-Day Adventist LGBT advocates and will continue to highlight this story, as well as other efforts for LGBT faith inclusion.