Also in the South, United Church clergy have joined with Methodist and other religious leaders in a coalition to support gay marriage – because they are Christians, not in spite of it.
Oklahoma faith leaders form coalition supporting marriage equality
More than 50 Oklahoma faith leaders have formed a coalition in support of marriage rights for all couples, whether gay or straight.The Oklahoma Faith Leaders for Marriage group includes leaders of congregations of Mennonites, United Methodists, Unitarians, Episcopalians, United Church of Christ and at least one Baptist minister and two rabbis.
Standing in the sanctuary of Church of the Open Arms, Kenny Wright and Bo Bass are an Oklahoma City gay couple who say they will get married in Oklahoma if the state’s same-sex marriage ban is overturned. Photo by Jim Beckel, The OklahomanThe United Methodist and United Church of Christ denominations have the most coalition representation, with at least eight United Methodist clergy and at least eight United Church of Christ ministers among the faith network’s members.“Expanding marriage equality will finally remove a long-standing obstacle to our pastoral care — and allow us to minister equally to all families in our community,” the coalition said in a statement released after its April launch.
In December 2013, Methodist pastor Frank Schaefer of central Pennsylvania was defrocked after he officiated at his son’s gay wedding. Huffington Post reports on a similar case, and other Methodist pastors who are defying church regulations, by conducting same – sex church weddings, or by living openly with a same – sex partner.
Rev. Thomas Ogletree, Another Methodist Pastor, To Be Tried For Presiding At Same Sex Wedding Of Son
The United Methodist Church has formally charged another clergyman for presiding at the same-sex wedding of his son.
The Rev. Thomas Ogletree will be tried March 10 for violating church law against officiating at gay unions, his spokeswoman, Dorothee Benz, announced Friday. It’s the second high-profile United Methodist trial in recent months over same-sex relationships. In December, pastor Frank Schaefer of central Pennsylvania was defrocked after he officiated at his son’s gay wedding. The church considers homosexuality “incompatible with Christian teaching.”
Ogletree is a theologian, a former Yale Divinity School dean and a retired elder in the church’s New York district, or Annual Conference. Some clergy had filed a complaint after his son’s 2012 wedding announcement appeared in The New York Times.
Ogletree, 80, said he could not refuse his son’s request to preside at the wedding, which was held in New York, where gay marriage is legally recognized.
A United Methodist minister who was suspended for officiating at his son’s gay marriage said on Monday he will not voluntarily surrender his religious credentials even though he cannot uphold his church’s doctrines on issues relating to same-sex marriage.
On November 17, 1999 Methodist minister Jimmy Creech was stripped of his clerical status for presiding over a same-sex holy union.
In April of 1999, Creech celebrated the holy union of two men in Chapel Hill. Charges were brought against him and a church trial was held in Grand Island, Nebraska, on November 17, 1999. In August of 1998, the Judicial Council of The United Methodist Church ruled that the statement prohibiting “homosexual unions” was church law in spite of its location in the Social Principles. Consequently, the jury in this second trial declared Creech guilty of “disobedience to the Order and Discipline of The United Methodist Church” and withdrew his credentials of ordination.
Since the summer of 1998, Creech has been travelling around the country to preach in churches and to speak on college and university campuses, as well as to various community and national Gay Rights organizations. Currently, he is writing a book about his experiences of the Church’s struggle to welcome and accept lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender persons. He is the Chairperson of the Board of Directors of Soulforce, Inc., an interreligious movement using the principles of nonviolent resistance, taught and practiced by Gandhi and Martin Luther King, Jr., to confront the spiritual violence perpetrated against lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender persons by religious institutions.
As soon as Michael Overman announced that he was gay, the Southern Baptist church that raised him, led him to attend an evangelical Christian college and inspired him to pursue ministry left him feeling abandoned.
He stayed estranged from Christianity for about six years before eventually finding his way to Holy Covenant United Methodist Church, a congregation in Chicago’s Lakeview neighborhood that welcomes gays and lesbians.
Reinvigorated by the church’s acceptance, he enrolled at Garrett-Evangelical Theological Seminary in Evanston and sought ordination in his new denomination.
But the United Methodist Church does not ordain gay clergy in committed relationships. That created a predicament for Overman, who joined his partner in a civil union last spring. He knew he could try keeping his relationship private as some partnered gay clergy opt to do. But that approach made him uncomfortable.
“If I’m going to be in ministry, I’m going to be in ministry as my whole self,” said Overman, 28, who lives in the city’s Uptown neighborhood. “When I look at Christian faith, it was always Christ’s mission to restore people in the community and restore people to wholeness. It didn’t make sense to me to go into ministry as a closeted person. That felt inauthentic.”
Following a number of gay and lesbian former Methodists who find themselves unable to serve in the church that cultivated their calling, Overman withdrew from the denomination last month to seek ordination instead in the Disciples of Christ Church, which accepts openly gay clergy in committed relationships. The departure of Overman and others spotlights the internal drama in one of the last mainline Protestant denominations that require gay clergy to stay celibate. Methodist teaching states that the practice of homosexuality is incompatible with Christian teaching.