Posted by Kendall Harmon

United Methodist Bishop Peggy Johnson, episcopal leader for the Philadelphia Area, said she has received a complaint against the 36 pastors who officiated at the Nov. 9 same-sex union of two men performed at Arch Street United Methodist Church but added the matter is confidential and will be “prayerfully” considered.

In a statement released by her office in the Eastern Pennsylvania Annual (regional) Conference, Johnson said, "We are following the Disciplinary process as outlined in paragraph 363 of the 2012 Book of Discipline of The United Methodist Church​ and are prayerful that a just resolution can be achieved. As United Methodists, we are committed to seeking peace and reconciliation as a model for society. May it be so."

A list of the 36 pastors has not been released and a spokesperson for the group said the pastors were abiding by the bishop’s wishes not to make any statements or speak to the media at this time.

The names of the person or persons filing the complaint also have not been made public.

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Posted July 10, 2014 at 11:05 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

The panel deemed the defrocking to be an illegitimate effort to punish Mr. Schaefer for his refusal to promise not to preside at another same-sex wedding.

Mr. Schaefer, 52, described himself as “totally elated” by the appeals panel decision, and he said he would celebrate in part by taking his son Tim, at whose same-sex wedding he officiated, to a White House gay pride event on Monday. Mr. Schaefer, who until his defrocking in December had been the pastor of Zion United Methodist Church of Iona in Lebanon, Pa., will resume his pastoral work next month in Santa Barbara, Calif., where Bishop Minerva G. Carcaño has offered him a position ministering to college students....

“This will be confirmation for traditionalists that we are deeply divided and may not be able to live together,” said the Rev. Rob Renfroe, the president of Good News, a United Methodist organization that opposes same-sex marriage. “When we have people who are not only disobedient, but who find a way to not have to keep the covenant they have made with the rest of the church, it helps us see that maybe we are so different that we’ve come to the end of the road together.”

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Update: Get Religion now has a piece on this article there.

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Posted June 25, 2014 at 4:40 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

The Methodist church panel weighing whether to reinstate Frank Schaefer, the Pennsylvania pastor who lost his credentials after officiating his gay son's wedding, did not announce a decision Saturday, according to Schaefer's counsel.

The panel, composed of nine lay members and clergy from the church's northeast jurisdiction, heard Schaefer's appeal Friday in Baltimore and had been expected to announce its decision Saturday.

No reason was given for the delay. It is not known when the decision will come, but the panel has 28 days to issue a ruling.

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Posted June 23, 2014 at 11:16 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Ministers in the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) can preside at same-sex marriages in states where they are legal following a vote this afternoon at the denomination‘‍s top legislative body.

And in the coming year, the denomination’‍s regional presbyteries will vote on whether to change its marriage definition church-wide to include two people regardless of gender.

Strong applause broke out after the overwhelming votes, which came after debate of more than two hours at the denomination‘‍s General Assembly here at the Detroit Cobo Center. But the decisions also came with plenty of anxious words about the looming possibility that more conservatives will join an exodus of estimated 350 congregations that have left for more conservative denominations in recent years as the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) shifts to increasingly liberal stances on sexuality. In 2011, the denomination voted to authorize the ordination of gays and lesbians in non-celibate relationships.

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Posted June 19, 2014 at 4:16 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

At the grassroots, schism is unpopular. A June poll, commissioned by a UMC agency, indicates that rank and file UMC members are opposed to a church schism over homosexuality. "We found that regardless of a person's position on homosexuality, members felt strongly that the church could offer a positive and different voice to the broader conversation occurring in society today," said John Deuterman, president of Corporate Research, which conducted the survey for the UMC Communications agency.

"They overwhelmingly reject the idea that the disagreements over this issue were justification for splitting the church."

Nothing definitive is likely to occur before 2016. That's the year the UMC will convene in Portland, Oregon, its next General Convention—the legislative body of the global church with authority to speak for the entire denomination.

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Posted June 11, 2014 at 3:30 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Hundreds of worshippers from one of the Church of Scotland’s biggest congregations have left en masse to join the Free Church amid dissent over the issue of ..[clergy in same-sex unions]....

The moves follow the decision by the General Assembly to allow the ordination of openly-gay ministers if this has the support of the congregation. At its General Assembly in May last year, the CoS voted to uphold its historic doctrine on same sex relationships but to also consider a policy of permitting individual congregations to choose ministers in stable same-sex relationships.

Although some Christians will continue to oppose the move at the Kirk’s General Assembly this week, the decision is expected to be ratified as a means of keeping most congregations within the fold.

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Posted May 20, 2014 at 8:00 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

The most information the official press releases provided came in the final release sent right after the meeting closed yesterday:

“In further conversations about the adaptive challenges facing The United Methodist Church, the residential bishops noted that Christ calls them to be in union with him, with one another, and with the Church. They recognized that they are called to lead according to the example of Jesus Christ during a challenging time within the church. Disagreements about human sexuality threaten to divide the church; and while there will be differing understandings, the bishops are called to be bishops of the whole church and to lead the church through such challenges. The residential bishops had conversations about how they could carry out the Book of Discipline and lead during this time. The conversation involved listening and forthright discussion in a covenant of grace-filled hospitality and truth-telling. No decisions or agreements were reached during these conversations.”

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Posted May 11, 2014 at 12:28 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Bishop Michael McKee has suspended the Rev. Bill McElvaney for performing a high-profile same-sex wedding in Dallas on March 1, 2014. News of the suspension was revealed in a message from McElvaney on the website of Northaven United Methodist Church, a congregation that was once led by the 85-year-old retired McElvaney.

In the posted message, McElvaney said he received a letter March 7 from Bishop Michael McKee informing him that the Rev. Camille Gaston, the district superintendent in the area, had filed a complaint against him. McElvaney reports that his clergy responsibilities had been suspended for 90 days.

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Posted March 24, 2014 at 5:00 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

For those who are waiting for a full reversal of church prohibitions, the dismissal of the Ogletree complaint is not enough.

Dorothee Benz of Methodists in New Directions, an advocacy group that has provided direct support to the retired pastor, commended McLee’s “very bold step” to find “a new way out of this problem,” and said the time for complacency is over....

“I’m heartened, but we’re not there,” said Lyn Ellis, co-coordinator of Affirmation, a long-time advocacy group. “Justice can’t be served if this can happen again.”

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Posted March 14, 2014 at 5:30 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Good News thanks the complainants, the Revs. Randall Paige and Roy Jacobsen, for their courageous attempt to maintain the church’s faithfulness to its doctrine and Discipline. They set an example for all of us to follow in their willingness to stand up publicly for biblical teaching. We cannot predict the future course of events, but when some parts of the church declare by their words and actions that they will no longer live by our agreed-upon way of discipleship, it puts the long-term viability of The United Methodist Church as a united body in grave jeopardy. - See more at: http://goodnewsmag.org/2014/03/good-news-statement-regarding-the-ogletree-case/#sthash.c3vf0lpZ.dpuf

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Posted March 14, 2014 at 5:15 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

I am disturbed that this settlement appears to represent a determination on the part of the New York Annual Conference leaders that they will no longer enforce or uphold the Discipline on this matter. While dialog and deep listening are good, they are no substitute for living up to the vows of obedience we took as United Methodist clergy, even when we disagree with the provisions we are asked to obey. Bishop McLee’s commitment to have no more trials for those accused of performing same-sex services means that numerous complaints that are in process will be held in abeyance, and further complaints will be discouraged.

The impact of this settlement today will be that faithful United Methodists who support the church’s teachings will feel ignored and will face their own crisis of conscience, as to whether they can continue to support a church that will not abide by its own rules. In addition, clergy in the New York Annual Conference and other like-minded annual conferences, are now given a green light to disobey the Discipline and perform same-sex services at will, without any consequences. Far from avoiding schism, today’s settlement increases the probability that schism will take place. For all these reasons, I cannot support this settlement.

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Posted March 14, 2014 at 5:00 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

The head bishop of the United Methodist Church in New York on Monday committed to ending church trials in his region for ministers who perform same sex-marriages, essentially freeing them to conduct a ceremony still prohibited under his denomination’s laws.

As the first sitting United Methodist bishop to publicly make such a pledge, Bishop Martin D. McLee instantly became a leading figure in a decades-old movement within the United Methodist Church, the country’s second-largest Protestant denomination, to extend equal recognition and rights to gay and lesbian members. Though Bishop McLee said that he hoped his approach would heal the church’s deep divisions over homosexuality, more conservative Methodists warned that his actions would push the denomination closer to an irrevocable split.

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Posted March 14, 2014 at 4:40 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Oostburg's pastor, the Rev. Brian Jacobson, said he feels a sense of hopefulness about the process.

"It feels like a genuine attempt — in Christian language — to make room for the spirit," Jacobson said. "It feels to me like this could be a way forward that would honor both sides."

First Presbyterian is seeking to affiliate with ECO: A Covenant Order of Evangelical Presbyterians, a theologically conservative denomination that formed after the 2011 vote.

Since then, about 260 congregations have left the 2.8 million-member Presbyterian Church USA, said the Rev. Gradye Parsons, who serves as the stated clerk of the church's general assembly in Louisville. Similar schisms have erupted in the Episcopal Church and Evangelical Lutheran Church in America.

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Posted January 29, 2014 at 3:08 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

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.

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Posted January 17, 2014 at 3:10 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Three below zero on a Minnesota morning, and the Rev. Oliver White stomps the snow off his boots as he enters the stucco edifice of Clark Memorial United Church of Christ to lead worship. He peels off an overcoat to reveal the kente-cloth vestments his wife made for him, which match the kufi hat he wears.

On this Sunday midway between Christmas and New Year’s Day, he sees a congregation thinned by both vacation and weather. Perhaps 50 people fill the pews, yet in their modest number resides a startling range: a lesbian couple with their son; a 98-year-old man who still shovels his own sidewalk; the black and white relatives of a biracial baby about to be baptized.

“Good morning, and let’s have the church say, ‘Amen,’ “ Mr. White, 71, begins, standing in the aisle rather than at the pulpit. Hearing the desultory response, he chides: “That was only half the church. Again?” The voices now rise, and he adds his own emphatic “Amen!”

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Posted January 12, 2014 at 11:19 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

It was an expensive media spectacle. A United Methodist pastor had presided at the marriage ceremony of his gay son and his partner, and several years later was brought before a jury of his peers to answer for his disobedience to the laws of the United Methodist Church. As the broader society wrestled with the legality of same-sex marriage, the teachings and the means of addressing conflict in the UMC were put on display, to the satisfaction of some and the horror of others.

The question of the value of public church trials has been under the microscope in recent weeks in the wake of Frank Schaefer’s trial, conviction, and defrocking; the decision by the Council of Bishops to ask two of their own to file formal charges against Bishop Melvin Talbert for his presiding at a celebration of marriage service for two gay men in Alabama; and the increasing number of United Methodist clergy who are ignoring the UM Book of Discipline’s provisions forbidding UM clergy from participating in services celebrating the union of gay couples. There have been calls by church leaders and advocates for a moratorium on church trials related to gay marriage. And today, an advocacy group working to end “heterosexist policies and practices” in the UMC issued a statement expressing their opposition to such a moratorium, suggesting that a moratorium would allow the church to ignore same-sex concerns rather than moving to repeal what they believe are “discriminatory laws.”

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Posted January 10, 2014 at 7:30 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

About half of Schaefer’s former church left since news of the wedding became public this spring, a combination of supporters struggling with the turmoil and critics.

“What should be a neutral setting right now — a church — is not, it’s a hostile place,” said Jon Boger, whose complaint about Schaefer set the case off. “But time heals everything, right?”

Liam Casey, a Zion member, said he had hoped Schaefer would find a way to stay.

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Posted December 21, 2013 at 7:59 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

...far from intimidating others, the trial and defrocking of Mr. Schaefer have galvanized a wave of Methodist ministers to step forward to disobey church prohibitions against marrying and ordaining openly gay people.

Members of the United Methodist Church, the nation’s third-largest Christian denomination, have been battling bitterly over homosexuality for four decades. The church now faces an increasingly determined uprising by clergy members and laypeople who have refused to cede, even after losing the most recent votes, at the Methodist convention last year, on proposals to change church teaching.

“After 40 years of playing nice and attempting a legislative solution, we will not wait any longer,” said Matt Berryman, a former Methodist pastor who said he turned in his credentials because he is gay. He now serves as the executive director of the Reconciling Ministries Network, a Methodist gay rights group.

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Posted December 20, 2013 at 10:09 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

The Rev. Frank Schaefer of Lebanon had already been suspended when he met with church officials to determine whether he would continue as a pastor.

Schaefer had been told to resign from the clergy by Thursday if he could not follow the denomination's Book of Discipline. But Schaefer has said the book discriminates against gay people and vowed this week that he would not voluntarily surrender his credentials.

Church spokesman John Coleman said that officials decided to defrock him.

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4 Comments
Posted December 19, 2013 at 9:27 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

A United Methodist minister in Pennsylvania plans to defy a church order to surrender his credentials for performing a same-sex wedding.

The Rev. Frank Schaefer says he cannot uphold the church's Book of Discipline because he finds it discriminatory. The Methodist church accepts gay and lesbian members but rejects the practice of homosexuality as "incompatible with Christian teaching."

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Posted December 16, 2013 at 10:30 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Jon Boger, who filed the initialcomplaint against Schaefer, was outraged by Schaefer’s recalcitrance.

The career Naval officer grew up in Zion United Methodist Church of Iona, the church that Schaefer has led for 11 years.

“Frank Schaefer sat here and openly rebuked the United Methodist Church, its policies, standards and doctrines,” Bolger said when called as a rebuttal witness. “He should no longer be in service as a minister of the United Methodist Church, not at Iona, not anywhere else.”

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Posted November 24, 2013 at 12:15 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Speaking to a group of reporters after the trial ended, he said he was surprised he walked out of the trial with the title of “Rev.”

“I gave them every excuse in the book to defrock me immediately but that did not happen,” he said. “I am still wondering what it means. I told them clearly that I can no longer be a silent supporter but now I feel I have to an outspoken advocate for all lesbian, gay, transgender and bisexual people.”

The 30-day suspension seems to be “time for me to change my mind,” he said. “I am here to tell you, I will not change my mind. I am what I am.”

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Posted November 23, 2013 at 10:00 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Schaefer, a Methodist pastor put on trial for presiding over his son's same-sex wedding, said he expected to be defrocked at the end of that period.

If asked, he said, he would officiate over another gay marriage during his 30-day suspension.

"I am no longer willing to accept the church's hate speeches, the church's treatment of some people like they are second-grade Christians. We must stop harming beloved children of God in the name of Christ," said Schaefer, pastor of Zion United Methodist Church of Iona in Lebanon County, Pa.

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Posted November 20, 2013 at 6:00 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

The Rev. Frank Schaefer has been given a 30-day suspension by the jury in his church trial and told that if he can’t uphold the Book of Discipline in its entirety he must surrender his credentials.

Schaefer was found guilty Nov. 18 of violating the church’s law against pastors performing same-sex unions and of disobedience to the order and discipline of The United Methodist Church. He acknowledged having performed the same-sex wedding of his son, Tim, in 2007.

The 30 day-suspension will cover both convictions, the jury said in a decision announced about 9 p.m. Eastern time. Schaefer also is to be monitored by his district superintendent in the Eastern Pennsylvania Annual (regional) Conference and must meet with the conference’s Board of Ordained Ministry during the suspension period.

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3 Comments
Posted November 20, 2013 at 5:30 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Read it all.

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Posted November 19, 2013 at 7:30 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

After the jurors were seated, [Retired Bishop Alfred] Gwinn explained to them that both sides of the trials had agreed to two facts. First, [the Rev. Frank] Schaefer had performed a same-sex ceremony that involved his son and partner in the Commonwealth of Massachusetts on April 28, 2007. Second, Schaefer signed a certificate of marriage that stated he “solemnized the marriage” and that he was ordained United Methodist clergy of The United Methodist Church.

Schaefer declared “not guilty” to both of the charges he faces, which fall under the 2004 Book of Discipline. He is accused of violating these two parts of Paragraph 2702.1:

(b) practices declared by The United Methodist Church to be incompatible with Christian teachings,15 including but not limited to: being a self-avowed practicing homosexual; or conducting ceremonies which celebrate homosexual unions; or performing same-sex wedding ceremonies;**

(d) disobedience to the order and discipline of The United Methodist Church;

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Posted November 19, 2013 at 5:45 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

A United Methodist pastor was convicted Monday of breaking church law by officiating his son's same-sex wedding and could be defrocked after a high-profile trial that has rekindled debate over the denomination's policy on gay marriage.

The Methodist church put the Rev. Frank Schaefer on trial in southeastern Pennsylvania, accusing him of breaking his pastoral vows by presiding over the 2007 ceremony in Massachusetts.

The 13-member jury convicted Schaefer on two charges: That he officiated a gay wedding, and that he showed "disobedience to the order and discipline of the United Methodist Church."

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Posted November 19, 2013 at 5:30 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Following the action of a retired bishop to conduct a same-gender ceremony in violation of church law, the United Methodist Council of Bishops took a series of actions to address the issue during their annual meeting this week in Lake Junaluska, N.C.

The Council requested that Bishop Rosemarie Wenner, president of the Council, and Bishop Debra Wallace-Padgett of the North Alabama Conference file a complaint regarding Bishop Melvin Talbert’s action, for “undermining the ministry of a colleague and conducting a ceremony to celebrate the marriage of a same gender couple.”

“When there are violations of the Book of Discipline, a response is required,” the bishops said in a statement.

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Posted November 17, 2013 at 12:56 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Was ..[this] event the first step in the unraveling of the United Methodist Church, or was it (as some attendees at the wedding suggested) no big deal?

Within the broader culture this probably isn’t a big deal in the face of more and more states legalizing gay marriage. The writing is pretty much on the wall that the legal distinctions between homosexuality and heterosexuality are eroding, and that a secular society can embrace the belief that all people are invited to the table and can share in the benefits of covenanted, mutual monogamy.

But the issues involved for our church are more troubling for Bishop Talbert’s actions raise more questions than simply whether gay folks can marry. The issues are many: the radical differences in culture between the various regions of the country (let alone the world); the nature of the vows clergy make and the covenant between them and the church; the lack of trust between members of the Council of Bishops, which permeates the larger church; our belief in a system of governance based on corporate discernment and how we respond when a minority believes that that actions of the majority are unjust. In off-the-record conversations with a few bishops I’ve heard concern and predictions that the divisions are too great, and that the covenant that they hold with one another is broken. For some the notion of a retired bishop challenging the practice of ministry of an active bishop in her episcopal area and defying her authority raises issues about the place and status of retired bishops and the need for term episcopacy like that of the Central Conferences.

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Posted October 29, 2013 at 6:45 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

The United Methodist Church’s highest court issued three rulings this weekend that do not change church policy toward gays and lesbians but allow bishops to accept resolutions expressing dissent from church teachings.

The Judicial Council affirmed a resolution approved by New York Bishop Martin McLee that celebrates congregations and individuals that “provide for the pastoral needs of same-sex couples within the United Methodist Church.”

It said that the resolution is “aspirational,” and does not call for action that contradicts the Book of Discipline, the United Methodist book of doctrine and laws, which defines homosexual conduct as “incompatible with Christian teaching.”

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Posted October 29, 2013 at 6:29 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

At 4:30 p.m. on Oct. 26, the doors shut out the disagreements about church law as United Methodists Joe Openshaw and Bobby Prince vowed to love each other for the rest of their lives in a wedding ceremony performed by retired Bishop Melvin G. Talbert.

Before the wedding. television cameras from several news stations rolled outside Covenant Community United Church of Christ. The two men and Bishop Talbert faced questions about why, and what it would mean for them to disregard their denomination’s stance that the practice of homosexuality is not compatible with Christian teaching and that ordained clergy are forbidden to perform a same-sex marriage....

For Talbert, the answer to why and what lies ahead is more complicated.

“On May 4, 2012 (during the 2012 United Methodist General Conference), I declared that the church’s official position is wrong and evil …it no longer calls for our obedience.”

Read it all.


Filed under: * Christian Life / Church LifeLiturgy, Music, WorshipParish MinistryMinistry of the Ordained* Religion News & CommentaryOther ChurchesMethodistSexuality Debate (Other denominations and faiths)* TheologyAnthropologyEthics / Moral TheologyTheology: Scripture

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Posted October 29, 2013 at 6:00 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

The United Methodist Church’s highest court gathers for its semiannual meeting in Baltimore on Wednesday, as the denomination confronts a growing movement of defiant clergy members opposed to church doctrine on gays and unwilling to back down.

They include:

The Rev. Steve Heiss, of Binghamton, N.Y. Heiss must promise by Thursday (Oct. 24), that he will never again preside at a same-sex wedding or face a church trial that could lead to his loss of clergy credentials. He said he will refuse.
The Rev. Frank Schaefer of Lebanon, Pa. He will be tried Nov. 18-19 for officiating at the 2007 same-sex wedding of his son.
The Rev. Gordon Hutchings of Tacoma, Wash. He faces a complaint for presiding at a same-sex marriage in his state.
The Rev. Sara Thompson Tweedy of New York. She faces a complaint of being a practicing lesbian.

Read it all.

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Posted October 23, 2013 at 3:11 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

More than 30 United Methodist pastors from Eastern Pennsylvania have agreed to jointly officiate a same-sex marriage next month, an unprecedented showing of solidarity for an embattled colleague that could lead to their ouster from the pulpit.

The colleague is the Rev. Frank Schaefer, who faces a Nov. 18 church trial in Chester County for officiating at the 2007 marriage between his son and another man.

Schaefer's fellow pastors call that an act of love, not a prosecutable offense. They gathered Thursday at a Philadelphia church and, after more than two hours, agreed to preside as a group at a same-sex marriage, a step they hope jolts the larger church.

Read it all.

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Posted October 21, 2013 at 6:00 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Rulings on recent actions by United Methodist annual (regional) conferences regarding church law on homosexuality issues will be considered by the denomination’s top court this fall.

Those decisions of law by bishops are among the 17 docket items on the United Methodist Judicial Council’s agenda when it meets Oct. 23-26 at the Sheraton City Center in Baltimore. No oral hearings are scheduled for this meeting.

Read it all.

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Posted September 26, 2013 at 5:45 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

We realize that all of us are fundamentally sinners (members of the LGBTQ community no more so than me), in desperate need of the restoration uniquely available in Jesus. Methodists were historically known for recognizing that we also need a Christian community who loves us enough to challenge us when we sin.

We submit to Jesus as Lord. If He is truly Lord, then no area of our lives can be off-limits to Him. Jesus spoke strongly about the centrality of self-denial in following Him, which often means dramatic personal sacrifices, including not acting on powerful desires for things outside of God’s best for us. This is rather different from just seeking religious endorsement for how we have already decided to live our lives. But Jesus and new life in Him are more than worth it.

We are a biblical church. Our core doctrine calls the Bible “the true rule and guide for faith and practice.” Even liberal biblical scholars now agree that the Old and New Testaments are very clear in their moral disapproval of homosexual practice. I will never forget the courageous witness of a same-sex attracted friend I got to know while earning my master’s at Harvard Divinity School. After a relative asked him what more he could possibly expect the Bible to say to convince him of its position on homosexuality, he committed himself to celibacy and went on to faithfully serve in ministry. More fundamentally, Scripture paints a beautiful picture of marriage as a holy covenant of intensely intimate, self-giving community between man and woman, uniting the two most basic, equal categories of humanity.

Read it all.

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Posted July 3, 2013 at 6:31 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

The Church of Scotland was last night bracing itself for the departure of up to a dozen well-heeled congregations over the issue of the ordination of gay ministers.
Three new congregations have indicated that they will quit the Kirk in the first signs of division to emerge since the vote to allow gay ministers.
New Restalrig Parish Church, St Catherine’s Argyle Parish Church and Holyrood Abbey Church in Edinburgh are in the process of negotiating a depart

Read it all (subscription required).

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Posted June 13, 2013 at 5:30 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Gary Hall’s pressed blue dress shirt and white clerical collar wasn’t the most head-turning look in a crowd that featured a lot of drag queens with towering bouffants, but his presence in Saturday’s gay pride parade through Washington was still a stunner for some.

The Very Rev. Gary Hall, as he is formally known, led the first ever official contingent from Washington National Cathedral in the annual celebration of gay life in the District.

“I won’t be walking bare-chested. I’m kind of a reserved person,” Hall said with a laugh before setting out from the staging area just west of Dupont Circle. “But if my being seen in the parade is a visible sign that God loves and accepts people across the full spectrum of human sexuality, it will have achieved its purpose.”

Read it all.

I will take comments on this submitted by email only to KSHarmon[at]mindspring[dot]com.

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Posted June 9, 2013 at 7:20 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Southern Baptist Theological Seminary President Albert Mohler says the nation’s largest Lutheran body is “not a church.”

He says the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America only lives up to a quarter of its name, citing the Southwest California Synod’s election of the first openly gay bishop in the denomination.

“It is by this act and by many prior acts distancing itself by light years from the actual faith and conviction of Martin Luther,” Mohler said in a Monday podcast. It has “demonstrated itself to be neither Evangelical nor Lutheran and, as G.K. Chesterton might say, not a church either. That just leaves them in America.”

Read it all.

Filed under: * Religion News & CommentaryOther ChurchesLutheranSexuality Debate (Other denominations and faiths)* TheologyAnthropologyEthics / Moral TheologyTheology: Scripture

2 Comments
Posted June 8, 2013 at 8:31 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

I am not looking for the Free Church to expand at the cost of another denomination. But I do hope that when that denomination forfeits the right to be known as a church of Christ, you will know that there is a brotherly love, concern and welcome for you in this denomination.”
--The Rev Iain D. Campbell, convenor of the Free Church of Scotland’s Ecumenical Relations Committee, in an article in the London Times [in reference to the Church of Scotland] (subscription required).

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1 Comments
Posted June 7, 2013 at 11:02 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

The number of churches that were dismissed from Presbyterian Church (USA) last year has increased by fivefold compared to 2011, says a recently released report.

According to statistics released [last] Thursday by the Office of the General Assembly for PC(USA), 110 congregations were granted dismissal in 2012 in order to join other denominations; in 2011, the reported number was only 21. In 2010, at the 219th General Assembly of PC (USA), a majority of presbyteries, or regional bodies, voted to approve Amendment 10a, which lets presbyteries allow for the ordination of openly homosexual clergy. Because of this amendment, many conservative congregations in PC (USA) decided to pursue dismissal from the mainline denomination, usually for more conservative Presbyterian...[bodies].

Read it all.

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Posted June 5, 2013 at 3:40 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

The Evangelical Lutheran Church in America has elected its first openly gay bishop, the Rev. R. Guy Erwin, to oversee churches in Southern California, four years after the church allowed openly gay men and lesbians to serve as clergy.

Following a wider trend within other mainline Protestant denominations to appoint gays and lesbians to leadership positions, the ELCA’s five-county Southwest California Synod elected Erwin on Friday (May 31) to a six-year term.

“It’s historic and a turning point, as was the ordination of women,” said Martin Marty, the dean of American church historians at the University of Chicago and a member of the ELCA. “This is just one of many indications that the culture has shifted.”

Read it all.

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11 Comments
Posted June 4, 2013 at 11:15 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

A United Methodist theologian and retired elder is facing formal charges under church law and a potential trial for officiating at the same-sex wedding of his son.

The Rev. Thomas Ogletree, a retired seminary dean noted for his work on Christian ethics, presided over the wedding of his son, Thomas Rimbey Ogletree, to Nicholas Haddad on Oct. 20. The service took place at the Yale Club in New York City.

Ogletree, 79, is a Yale Divinity School professor emeritus, veteran of the civil rights movement and lifelong member of the Methodist tradition. He told United Methodist News Service that as a professor, he rarely has been asked to perform weddings. When his son asked him to officiate, he said he felt “deeply moved.”

Read it all.


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Posted May 8, 2013 at 11:10 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Beloved New York Annual Conference:

Many of you may have read the recently published article in The New York Times that centered on same sex marriage and The United Methodist Church. The confidentiality requirements of the complaint process prevent me from discussing the case in detail. However, as is the case on many issues confronting the church today, there are multiple perspectives associated with human sexuality.

There is also a multiplicity of other concerns that we are confronted with as a body of Christian believers. Immigration reform, gun violence, poverty and the challenges within our criminal justice system are but a few of the significant issues on the local and national landscape.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Anglican - EpiscopalSexuality Debate (in Anglican Communion)Same-sex blessings* Christian Life / Church LifeParish Ministry* Culture-WatchMarriage & FamilyReligion & CultureSexuality--Civil Unions & Partnerships* Religion News & CommentaryOther ChurchesMethodistSexuality Debate (Other denominations and faiths)* TheologyAnthropologyEthics / Moral TheologyTheology: Scripture

2 Comments
Posted May 6, 2013 at 6:00 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

It started out as a deeply personal act, that of a father officiating at the wedding of his son.

But it was soon condemned as a public display of ecclesiastical disobedience, because the father, the Rev. Dr. Thomas W. Ogletree, is a minister in the United Methodist Church, which does not allow its clergy to perform same-sex weddings.

Dr. Ogletree, 79, is now facing a possible canonical trial for his action, accused by several New York United Methodist ministers of violating church rules. While he would not be the first United Methodist minister to face discipline for performing a same-sex wedding, he could well be the one with the highest profile. He is a retired dean of Yale Divinity School, a veteran of the nation’s civil rights struggles and a scholar of the very type of ethical issues he is now confronting.

Read it all.

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5 Comments
Posted May 6, 2013 at 4:44 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Editor's Note: The gay marriage debate has reached an apex nationally as the U.S. Supreme Court considers two cases that could expand the definition of marriage to include same-sex couples and extend a large set of rights, benefits and privileges to such couples. The court's decisions are expected this summer. In the meantime, The Post and Courier has invited two local clergy to share their views on the matter.

Read them both.

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2 Comments
Posted April 21, 2013 at 12:29 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Why do so many guys with good doctrine have bad attitudes?

Can you be biblically orthodox and firm in your faith without being brittle or hard-hearted?

Can we be humble and orthodox?

My friend, Josh Harris, thinks so. His book Humble Orthodoxy: Holding the Truth High Without Putting People Down (Multnomah, 2013) is short and to the point, and it’s a point we need to be reminded of. I asked Josh to join me on the blog for a conversation about the importance of holding to the right beliefs the right way.

Read it all.

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Posted April 11, 2013 at 3:25 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

More than 200 Presbyterian congregations nationwide - including nine in Sacramento - have been torn asunder over the Presbyterian Church USA's new rules and the ordination of its first [noncelibate] gay minister, who is a former Sacramento pastor. The rift has resulted in lawsuits, sold churches, broken friendships and scattered congregations.

In a historic vote in October 2011, 427 Fremont Presbyterian congregants voted to leave the national denomination while 164 voted to stay. At the time, the 128-year-old congregation had about 1,200 members.

The vote prompted a church investigation into the schism to determine which faction was entitled to the church property valued at $9 million.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Christian Life / Church LifeParish Ministry* Religion News & CommentaryOther ChurchesPresbyterianSexuality Debate (Other denominations and faiths)* Theology

1 Comments
Posted April 11, 2013 at 7:26 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

The possibility of dividing the United Methodist Church as a way out of persistent conflicts over homosexuality has been raised enough times in recent years to warrant serious reflection on what it would entail. The fact that Episcopalians, Presbyterians and Lutherans have all seen either formal divisions or significant withdrawals of congregations from their denominations over these issues does not bode well for the UMC.

But as tempting as the idea might be as a way out of our conflicts, we would have to think about realities like the following....

Read it all.

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3 Comments
Posted April 7, 2013 at 3:00 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

A church in Aberdeen wants to break away from the Church of Scotland because of the institution's decision to lift its ban on appointing gay ministers.

Reverend Dominic Smart said elders at Gilcomston South Church in Aberdeen, pictured, disagreed with the General Assembly's resolution, feeling it had "marginalised" the Bible.

He insisted the assembly's May decision on same-sex partnerships represented a "clear and deliberate move away from the authority of scripture".

Read it all.

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2 Comments
Posted February 11, 2013 at 11:14 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

My question for you, kind GetReligion readers, is this: Did the newspaper reports bury the lede? Rather than sales figures and charity donations, is the bigger story here that two humans got together and found common ground? Or am I naive to expect that such dialogue might make headlines?

Read it all.

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1 Comments
Posted February 1, 2013 at 7:30 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Fornication, quite simply, isn't merely "premarital sex." It isn't only a matter of impatience. It is not simply the marital act misfired at the wrong time, a kind of, as it were, premature ejaculation. Yes, it is true that the sexual act in fornication is, or at least can be, the same sort of physical activity as wedded sexuality. And it's true that, in fornication, the couple involved may be doing that which they would be qualified to do if they were a married couple (which would distinguish fornication from, say, sodomy or incest). But fornication is, both spiritually and typologically, a different sort of act from the marital act, and is indeed a parody of it.

Sexual union is not an arbitrary expression of the will of God (much less of random Darwinian processes). It is instead an icon of God's purposes for the universe in the gospel of Christ. Paul's classic text on the one-flesh union of marriage from Ephesians 5 makes no sense if it is presented as it is too often preached: as a set of tips for a healthier, "hotter" marriage. Instead, this passage is part of an ongoing argument about the cosmic mystery of Christ, a mystery "which was not made known to the sons of men in other generations as it has now been revealed to his holy apostles and prophets by the Spirit" (Eph. 3:5).

The Genesis 2 mandate to leave father and mother, to cleave to one another, and to become one flesh is a "mystery" and "refers to Christ and the Church" (Eph. 5:31–32).

Read it all.

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Posted January 23, 2013 at 5:14 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Those of us who will have to deal with what Steve Chalke has said need not necessarily agree with his theology or biblical hermeneutic to affirm the truth that he boldly declares, which is that the Church cannot afford to go on alienating the youth of the nation by the way it treats gay people.

For my own part, I remain conservative on the issue, but I agree with Steve that the attitudes of many churches are homophobic and cruel. Whether or not we change our positions on accepting same-sex relationships or even gay marriage, we Evangelicals have to face the reality that the time has come for many of us to change our attitudes towards gay people, and show something of the love and grace of God in the name of His Son Jesus.

Read it all.

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4 Comments
Posted January 22, 2013 at 6:00 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Bishop Sally Dyck, recently installed as head of the church's Northern Illinois Conference, met face to face with [Michael] Overman regarding his decision to leave. She insisted that the church does not take a "don't ask, don't tell" approach.

"We are saddened to lose a gifted person going toward ministry," she said. "'Don't ask, don't tell' is not the approach taken when referring to the church law, which bars the ordination or appointment of 'self-avowed practicing homosexuals.' The district committee appreciated and respected Michael's honesty about his personal relationship and in turn had to be honest with Michael about the reality that the Board of Ordained Ministry is bound by the current laws in the Book of Discipline.

"This is the tension our denomination continues to struggle with and discerns as the United Methodist Church also acknowledges in the Book of Discipline that all persons are of sacred worth," she added.

Read it all.

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1 Comments
Posted November 2, 2012 at 7:30 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Gregory also provides us with a powerful counter-argument to Peter Steinfels's insistence that a commitment to celibacy could only now be re-invigorated within contemporary Roman Catholicism at the cost of a high theology of lay and married service. As he puts it in A People Adrift, "If the church wants to restore celibacy to [its] former status, there is really only one practical way to do it: demote marriage to the second-class standing it once had."

I argue, in the spirit of Gregory, that marriage and celibacy ought to be re-thought alongside one another. But I have also tried to suggest that heterosexual and homosexual desire ought to be examined together and subjected to the same exacting standards of ascetic transformation through discipline and "right direction." In this way, homoerotic desire could potentially be released from its cultural - and biblical - associations with libertinism, promiscuity and disorder. Gregory's vision of desire as thwarted, chastened, transformed, renewed and finally intensified through its relations to God - which would then produce spiritual fruits of love and service in a range of other relationships and communal bonds - represents a way beyond and through the false modern alternatives of "repression" and "libertinism."

The re-thinking of celibacy and faithful vowed relations (whether heterosexual or homosexual) in an age of instantly commodified desire and massive infidelity is a task of daunting proportions, of which no-one can be very confident of wide-spread success. But as Gregory himself warns, we cannot believe it unless we see it lived.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Anglican - EpiscopalSexuality Debate (in Anglican Communion)* Culture-WatchMarriage & FamilyPsychologySexuality* Religion News & CommentarySexuality Debate (Other denominations and faiths)* TheologyAnthropologyEthics / Moral TheologyTheology: Scripture

1 Comments
Posted October 29, 2012 at 11:06 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

...the cracks in Vines’ message run far deeper than his arguments; his hermeneutical approach to the whole question is deeply flawed. Vines is approaching Scripture as though it were a puzzle to be solved. His impassioned plea that we not declare good what Genesis declares evil, that man should be alone, raises serious questions about the role of gay people in the Church, but the answer he seeks has clearly determined his engagement with the text.

If Scripture is merely a code to be broken, then we can enter into it by ourselves, armed with lexicons and concordances, to declare its true meaning. But a deeper reflection will reveal that this leaves us with no defense against our own prejudices and the ways in which we have been shaped by our culture. It would seem that Vines has absorbed the problematic attitudes of the late twentieth and early twenty-first centuries.

C. S. Lewis, in his introduction to St. Athanasius’ De Incarnatione, offers words Vines would do well to heed: “Every age has its own outlook. It is specially good at seeing certain truths and specially liable to make certain mistakes. We all, therefore, need the books that will correct the characteristic mistakes of our own period. And that means the old books.”

Read it all.

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0 Comments
Posted October 12, 2012 at 5:45 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

The debate over same-sex “marriage” continues to be a hot topic in many countries. This week the New Zealand parliament voted in favor at the first reading of a bill that if eventually approved will legalize same-sex “marriage.”

Legislation has also been introduced into the parliament of the Australian state of Tasmania to legalize same-sex “marriage.” In Scotland the government is planning to approve it and last Sunday at Masses a pastoral letter from the bishops was read out, urging people to defend marriage as being between and a man and a woman. Meanwhile, in the United States the support for marriage voiced by the owner of a fast food chain, Chick-fil-A, has stirred up considerable controversy.

The contrasting opinions on this topic were well covered in a recent book that pits two opposing views: “Debating Same-Sex Marriage,” (Oxford University Press) by John Corvino and Maggie Gallagher.

Corvino is a professor of philosophy at Wayne State University in Detroit and Gallagher is the co-founder of the National Organization for Marriage and the author of several books on marriage.

Read it all.

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Posted September 4, 2012 at 6:34 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Because of this many of his disciples turned back and no longer went about with him. So Jesus asked the twelve, “Do you also wish to go away?”

Do you also wish to go away?

I considered this question during my years as a seminary student when I came to realize and understand the ELCA’s stance on homosexuality and the policies that supported that stance. In the late 1990s, when I was a student, gays and lesbians were not allowed to serve as pastors nor was there any support from the ELCA to bless same-sex unions. Could I become a pastor in a church with such policies and positions? As many of you know, I had a mentor in junior high and high school, a Lutheran pastor, whose homosexuality was revealed only when he revealed that he had AIDS. The congregation where he was serving decided to keep him on as their pastor until he was no longer able to serve, even though they would have had every right — under ELCA policies at the time — to dismiss him. Could I become a pastor in a church that had such a right and which, on many other occasions, acted on that right? Would becoming a pastor in the Lutheran church imply full support of the ELCA’s stance, becoming complicit in a system that denied gays and lesbians the opportunity to answer God’s call to serve as pastors in this church? Would becoming a pastor in this church mean becoming a part of a system that kept people like my mentor in the closet, that denied blessings to those who were in love, that perpetuated the cycle of ignorance and fear?

Do you also wish to go away?

Read it all.

Filed under: * Anglican - EpiscopalSexuality Debate (in Anglican Communion)Same-sex blessings* Christian Life / Church LifeParish MinistryMinistry of the Ordained* Religion News & CommentaryOther ChurchesLutheranSexuality Debate (Other denominations and faiths)* TheologyEthics / Moral TheologyTheology: Scripture

2 Comments
Posted September 4, 2012 at 4:40 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Pittsburgh Presbytery is poised to vote on a plan that would allow congregations to leave the Presbyterian Church (USA) with their buildings if they first engage in an open discernment process and negotiate a settlement with the presbytery.

About 170 people attended a discussion Tuesday night in Bethany Presbyterian Church, Bridgeville. The plan will be voted on Sept. 15. Four churches asked for such a policy: Mt. Lebanon United Presbyterian Church, Lebanon Presbyterian Church in West Mifflin, Bellefield Presbyterian Church in Oakland, and Round Hill Presbyterian Church in Elizabeth Borough.

Read it all.

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6 Comments
Posted August 28, 2012 at 3:46 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

We are facing a true moral inversion — a system of moral understandings turned upside down. Where homosexuality was even recently condemned by the society, now it is considered a sin to believe that homosexuality is wrong in any way. A new sexual morality has replaced the old, and those who hold to the old morality are considered morally deficient. The new moral authorities have one central demand for the church: get with the new program.

This puts the true church, committed to the authority of God’s Word, in a very difficult cultural position. Put simply, we cannot join the larger culture in normalizing homosexuality and restructuring society to match this new morality. Recognizing same-sex unions and legalizing same-sex marriage is central to this project.

Liberal churches and denominations are joining the project, some more quickly and eagerly than others. The cultural pressure is formidable, and only churches that are truly committed to Scripture will withstand the pressure to accommodate themselves and their message to the new morality.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Religion News & CommentaryOther ChurchesEvangelicalsSexuality Debate (Other denominations and faiths)* TheologyAnthropologyEthics / Moral TheologyTheology: Scripture

7 Comments
Posted August 27, 2012 at 5:30 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Jesus is sending out his disciples to the people....[and he concludes by saying] if they are rejected, if... [those to whom they speak]...refuse to hear what they are saying, to leave. And he tells them that as they walk away they should shake the dust off their feet as a sign that they had not been welcomed.

Its sort of a Leadership Principles of Jesus 101 class. As much as you want consensus, as much as you want everyone to join you, that won’t always happen. And sometimes you have to just move forward and do the right thing anyway.

I was thinking about this last week. I was watching the webcast of the biannual national meeting of my former denomination, the Presbyterian Church. It’s a church I still love, but I, like many others, had my own moment of shaking the dust from my feet in order to join a church that was truly committed to moving forward and embracing all in their ministry.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Christian Life / Church LifeParish MinistryMinistry of the Ordained* Religion News & CommentaryOther ChurchesPresbyterianUnited Church of ChristSexuality Debate (Other denominations and faiths)

1 Comments
Posted July 8, 2012 at 3:38 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

After a long and complicated debate Friday afternoon and evening of General Assembly, the gathered commissioners chose to maintain the Biblical definition of marriage. They voted down overtures to redefine marriage and to issue an authoritative interpretation to allow teaching elders to conduct marriages for same sex couples in states where that is legal. Instead, the assembly approved a two-year “season of serious study and discernment” for presbyteries and congregations regarding the meaning of Christian marriage.

Commissioner Bill Thro remarked, “This is a Gideon moment – a victory that never would have happened. I think God saved the PCUSA from schism tonight. I am humbled that God called my colleagues and me to play a role in this drama.” Thro was a member of the Civil Unions and Marriage Committee and presented one of the minority reports.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchLaw & Legal IssuesMarriage & FamilyReligion & CultureSexuality--Civil Unions & Partnerships* Religion News & CommentaryOther ChurchesPresbyterianSexuality Debate (Other denominations and faiths)* TheologyAnthropologyEthics / Moral TheologyTheology: Scripture

2 Comments
Posted July 7, 2012 at 8:51 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Presbyterian churches around Charlotte now face the same philosophical debates over Biblical authority and homosexuality that have cleaved other religions.

To date, nine area congregations have either left the Presbyterian Church (USA) or have announced wishes to do so over what they believe to be the liberal drift of the church.

The latest: Huntersville Presbyterian, which voted Sunday to dissolve its affiliation with the Presbytery of Charlotte.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Religion News & CommentaryOther ChurchesPresbyterianSexuality Debate (Other denominations and faiths)* TheologyAnthropologyEthics / Moral TheologyTheology: Scripture

1 Comments
Posted June 11, 2012 at 8:00 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Even as they supported the move, many of the Presbyterian Church's more progressive members called West Hollywood's defection deeply troubling and a little perplexing, given the timing. A year ago, the church lifted its prohibition on gay and lesbian ministers. This summer, its governing body will vote on whether to allow same-sex marriages. The outcome is uncertain.

"Just because there is a rule on the books that says we're not restricting [ordination], the denomination is still pretty hostile to gay and lesbian folks," said the Rev. Maria La Sala, who teaches Presbyterian governance at Yale Divinity School. "On the one hand, my heart is broken. On the other, I understand."

Read it all.

Filed under: * Anglican - EpiscopalSexuality Debate (in Anglican Communion)Same-sex blessings* Religion News & CommentaryOther ChurchesPresbyterianSexuality Debate (Other denominations and faiths)* TheologyAnthropologyEthics / Moral TheologyTheology: Scripture

1 Comments
Posted June 5, 2012 at 9:02 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

The year 2012 is shaping up to be another one of steep membership decline for the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A) as nearly a dozen congregations have already finished their process of separation from the group or are continuing it.

On February 11, congregations in Davenport, Wash. and South Charleston, Ohio were officially dismissed by their presbyteries, concluding a three-year and nine-year process of consideration for the respective churches. Both churches, like many before them, cited theological differences, particularly regarding the ordainment of active homosexuals, as their reasons for leaving....

Read it all.

Filed under: * Christian Life / Church LifeParish Ministry* Religion News & CommentaryOther ChurchesPresbyterianSexuality Debate (Other denominations and faiths)* TheologyAnthropologyEthics / Moral TheologyTheology: Scripture

0 Comments
Posted June 3, 2012 at 7:01 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

The Roman Catholic Church teaches that homosexual behavior is a sin, but there are Catholic priests who secretly bless gay unions.
Check out the posts here and also there.

The City Gates has more thoughts to offer in this post as well.

Filed under: * Christian Life / Church LifeLiturgy, Music, WorshipParish MinistryMinistry of the Ordained* Culture-WatchMediaReligion & Culture* Religion News & CommentaryOther ChurchesRoman CatholicSexuality Debate (Other denominations and faiths)

8 Comments
Posted May 25, 2012 at 6:10 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

In an unprecedented act of defiance, a California branch of the Presbyterian Church (USA) refused a ruling from a church court to rebuke a pastor who wed same-sex couples.

The Napa-based Presbytery of the Redwoods voted 74-18 on Tuesday (May 15) to instead praise the Rev. Janie Spahr, who wed 16 same-sex couples when gay marriage was legal in California in 2008.

Read it all and also note an LA Times article on this matter is there.

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4 Comments
Posted May 18, 2012 at 8:00 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

While appealing to some, this “compromise” is ultimately unhelpful. When a matter is pragmatic and little more, compromise can be the right option to take. Part of growing up is realizing that you can’t and don’t need to get your way all the time.

But when the issue is one of principle and when it involves the clear teaching of Scripture, we cannot take the easy way out and claim that we do not know what we believe without injuring our personal integrity and our corporate witness. And to be honest, everyone knows that removing the clear statement we currently have in the Discipline would not resolve the issue. It is only a first step by those whose ultimate intention is to change the church’s position. And that’s hardly a true compromise.

When the “agree-to-disagree compromise” was defeated in Fort Worth and the historic position of the church was reaffirmed, the charge against those who supported the church’s stance was, “You’re dishonest. We are of divided mind. Why won’t you even allow us to state that we differ?”

It’s a good question. And there’s a very good answer. We United Methodists are divided on practically every issue. But in none of our other statements on matters theological, moral, or cultural do we state that we have agreed to disagree.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Religion News & CommentaryOther ChurchesMethodistSexuality Debate (Other denominations and faiths)* TheologyAnthropologyEcclesiologyEthics / Moral TheologyTheology: Scripture

3 Comments
Posted May 11, 2012 at 6:00 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

United Methodists concluded their General Conference last Friday (May 4) without voting on gay clergy or same-sex marriage, a surprising end to a disappointing week for gay activists.

On Thursday, the nearly 1,000 delegates gathered in Tampa, Fla., soundly rejected two motions that would have amended the United Methodist Church's book of doctrine and rules, which calls the practice of homosexuality "incompatible with Christian teaching." After those votes, protesters flooded the convention floor, briefly shutting down the conference....

Read it all.

Filed under: * Religion News & CommentaryOther ChurchesMethodistSexuality Debate (Other denominations and faiths)

3 Comments
Posted May 7, 2012 at 4:38 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Read them all.

Filed under: * Religion News & CommentaryOther ChurchesMethodistSexuality Debate (Other denominations and faiths)* TheologyEthics / Moral Theology

1 Comments
Posted May 4, 2012 at 6:10 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

The delegates defeated another compromise proposal by an even wider margin: 61 to 39 percent. The resolution would have acknowledged a "limited understanding" of human sexuality and called on the church to "refrain from judgment regarding homosexual persons and practices until the Spirit leads us to new insight."

The Rev. Steve Wendy of Texas argued that the compromise would cause confusion and lead the church to "stumble in our witness."

"If you look at our largest congregations, and crunch the numbers, they are all reaching young adults successfully," Wendy said. "And, overwhelmingly, they teach and proclaim God's truth without compromise."

Read it all.

Filed under: * Religion News & CommentaryOther ChurchesMethodistSexuality Debate (Other denominations and faiths)* TheologyEthics / Moral Theology

2 Comments
Posted May 4, 2012 at 6:00 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

After an emotional debate, Methodists at a national legislative meeting Thursday upheld the denomination's policy that same-sex relationships are "incompatible with Christian teaching."

Delegates at the General Conference voted by about 60% to 40% against softening the language on homosexuality in their Book of Discipline, which contains church laws and doctrine. The meeting is held once every four years, which means the policy won't come up for a conference vote again until 2016.

Advocates for gay and lesbian Methodists gathered in the convention hall wearing rainbow stoles and protested the vote by singing and interrupting the meeting. Some cried when the vote tally was announced. Methodist leaders briefly shut down business in response to the protest.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Religion News & CommentaryOther ChurchesMethodistSexuality Debate (Other denominations and faiths)

4 Comments
Posted May 4, 2012 at 5:36 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

The United Methodist Church cannot agree that it disagrees over the issue of homosexuality.

After more than an hour of passionate debate and clear disagreement, two items stating Christians have different opinions about homosexuality were not approved by the 2012 General Conference, leaving the original language in the Book of Discipline intact.

The Book of Discipline, Paragraph 161F states: “The United Methodist Church does not condone the practice of homosexuality and considers this practice incompatible with Christian teaching.”

Read it all.

Filed under: * Religion News & CommentaryOther ChurchesMethodistSexuality Debate (Other denominations and faiths)* TheologyAnthropologyEthics / Moral Theology

7 Comments
Posted May 3, 2012 at 3:40 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

The titles are:
Holy conversations have unintended effect

Attempt at ‘Holy Conversation’ also brings pain

Stop living in denial

The Theology of Glee: A General Conference “Gleetup”
Read them all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchMediaReligion & Culture* Religion News & CommentaryOther ChurchesMethodistSexuality Debate (Other denominations and faiths)

2 Comments
Posted May 3, 2012 at 4:52 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

As nearly 1,000 delegates from across the world gather in Tampa, Fla., for the United Methodist Church's General Conference, gay and lesbian activists have printed pamphlets promoting their cause in five languages, including Portuguese and Swahili.

The UMC's global reach, stretching from the Philippines to Philadelphia, compels the multilingual lobbying. Nearly 40 percent of the delegates, who meet through May 4, live outside the United States, according to church leaders.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchLaw & Legal IssuesMarriage & FamilyReligion & CultureSexuality--Civil Unions & Partnerships* Religion News & CommentaryOther ChurchesMethodistSexuality Debate (Other denominations and faiths)* TheologyAnthropologyEthics / Moral TheologyTheology: Salvation (Soteriology)Theology: Scripture

6 Comments
Posted April 26, 2012 at 5:00 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

The largest Colorado congregation of the Presbyterian Church (USA) has voted to leave the denomination over theological differences.

First Presbyterian Church of Colorado Springs voted Sunday morning to leave the Pueblo Presbytery of PC(USA) in large part due to the denomination's decision in 2010 to allow the ordination of non-celibate homosexuals.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Religion News & CommentaryOther ChurchesPresbyterianSexuality Debate (Other denominations and faiths)

0 Comments
Posted April 24, 2012 at 5:15 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

The Senior Pastor, Jim Singleton, writes about the congregational meeting as follows:

I want to offer a big thank you to all who attended the Congregational Gathering on Sunday afternoon. It was the longest congregational gathering most have ever attended, but in Presbyterian polity it was likely the most important such gathering most have attended here. To put attendance in perspective, there were more here and voting than were in attendance when I was called as senior pastor seven years ago. Over 1500 were in attendance and over 1300 voted. The result of the vote was that a little over 88% voted “yes” to leave the PCUSA and join ECO. A little over 4% voted “no” and a little over 6% indicated that at this point they were unsure of their decision. Lots of issues surfaced at the meeting – issues we hope to address shortly. At this time, we do not have a firm date for the second meeting as it depends in part on permission and scheduling with the Presbytery. But we will know soon.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Religion News & CommentaryOther ChurchesPresbyterianSexuality Debate (Other denominations and faiths)

1 Comments
Posted March 12, 2012 at 5:00 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

A retired Presbyterian pastor who spent her career ministering to gay men and lesbians has been censured by her denomination for marrying same-sex couples during the brief time such unions were legal in California.

The Rev. Jane Adams Spahr lost her final appeal before the highest court in the Presbyterian Church (USA), which released its opinion Tuesday. The tribunal ruled that the 69-year-old lesbian had violated the church's constitution and her ordination vows when she officiated at the unions of 16 couples and called them marriages.

A lower court's rebuke of Spahr was upheld, along with the warning that pastors should not represent the marriage of gay or lesbian couples as Presbyterian marriages....

Read it all.

Filed under: * Christian Life / Church LifeLiturgy, Music, WorshipParish MinistryMinistry of the Ordained* Culture-WatchLaw & Legal IssuesMarriage & FamilyReligion & CultureSexuality--Civil Unions & Partnerships* Religion News & CommentaryOther ChurchesPresbyterianSexuality Debate (Other denominations and faiths)* TheologyAnthropologyEthics / Moral TheologyPastoral Theology

5 Comments
Posted February 22, 2012 at 7:44 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

The 1,759 to 185 vote exceeded the two-thirds majority needed to seek dismissal from the PC (USA). The 3,600-member First Presbyterian is the largest Presbyterian church in Florida and fourth largest in the nation.

"Change is never easy," said Senior Pastor David Swanson, "but I believe our congregation has prayerfully discerned God's leading for us, and I cannot wait to see what God has in store for First Presbyterian Church as she embarks on this new phase of ministry and service for his sake."

First Presbyterian has been losing membership in recent years and blamed some of that on PC (USA) doctrines that permitted the ordination of gay deacons, elders and clergy. Some also blamed the decline on doctrines that quest questioned the Bible as the literal word of God and Jesus Christ as the only salvation.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Christian Life / Church LifeParish MinistryEvangelism and Church Growth* Religion News & CommentaryOther ChurchesPresbyterianSexuality Debate (Other denominations and faiths)* Theology

4 Comments
Posted February 1, 2012 at 3:34 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

First Presbyterian Church of North Palm Beach tonight will begin discussing whether it should split from the Presbyterian USA group, which recently approved openly gay clergy and lay leaders, and join another Presbyterian group, which does not.

First Presbyterian has about 1,100 members, among them golf legend Jack Nicklaus and former GE head Jack Welch.

Ken Kirby, one of the members that organized the meeting at the church, said that it would be oversimplifying to reduce the decision to the issue of gay clergy. He is part of a growing group of Presbyterians who feel that the Presbyterian Church USA has taken a radical step away from traditional beliefs.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Anglican - EpiscopalEpiscopal Church (TEC)TEC ConflictsSexuality Debate (in Anglican Communion)Same-sex blessings* Religion News & CommentaryOther ChurchesPresbyterianSexuality Debate (Other denominations and faiths)* TheologyAnthropologyEthics / Moral TheologyTheology: Scripture

0 Comments
Posted November 30, 2011 at 7:45 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Some national church denominations have changed their standards in recent years – stirring debate among congregations about whether to stay or find a new path.

In the central San Joaquin Valley, some congregations have chosen to leave their denominations because, they say, it doesn't represent their traditional values. The goodbyes have worked out for the churches, but they have been difficult.

The trend has reached three major denominations – the U.S. Episcopal Church, Presbyterian Church (USA) and most recently the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Anglican - EpiscopalEpiscopal Church (TEC)TEC ConflictsTEC Conflicts: San JoaquinSexuality Debate (in Anglican Communion)Same-sex blessings* Christian Life / Church LifeParish Ministry* Religion News & CommentaryOther ChurchesLutheranPresbyterianSexuality Debate (Other denominations and faiths)

1 Comments
Posted August 7, 2011 at 1:00 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

For the Episcopal Church, questions about homosexuality and same-gender relationships came to a head with the election of the Rev. Canon V. Gene Robinson. In a controversial move in 2003, Robinson made history as the first openly gay priest to become a bishop in his church.

"It was like a lightning bolt hitting in the middle of the living room," said Rev. Maureen Doherty, an Episcopal priest and a campus minister at the University of Northern Iowa.

Since then, a lot has changed in her church and in her state. After Iowa removed barriers in 2009 that had kept same-sex couples from marrying, Doherty, a lesbian, wed her partner. Doherty now has permission from her bishop to wed other same-sex couples whereas before, she was limited to offering a blessing.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Anglican - EpiscopalEpiscopal Church (TEC)TEC ParishesSexuality Debate (in Anglican Communion)Same-sex blessings* Christian Life / Church LifeLiturgy, Music, WorshipParish Ministry* Culture-WatchSexuality--Civil Unions & Partnerships* Religion News & CommentarySexuality Debate (Other denominations and faiths)* TheologyEthics / Moral TheologyPastoral Theology

3 Comments
Posted August 1, 2011 at 6:02 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Q: Under the new policies, can a Lutheran church refuse to hire a gay pastor?

A: Hiring works a little different in the church than it does in other places. We don’t apply for jobs. And when you’re talking about spirituality, and where people are in their lives, it really takes a connection, like on a relationship level, that doesn’t necessarily come out in a regular job interview. It becomes very complicated.

Myself, if I knew a congregation didn’t welcome everyone, I would just say no to the (position). If I knew they really didn’t like female ministers, OK, you know what? I know that that’s how this community is. And perhaps if I was at the right point in my life, I might go. I’ve been the first woman pastor in a parish before. And yes, you can change people’s minds and you can show a different way. But sometimes you can’t. And I think that’s more how it will play out: people will just kind of know pockets or where they should and shouldn’t go.

Q: Do you think there will be a further split over this that no one is foreseeing?

A: There has already been a split over the past decade. We have had some parishes leave. Some have gone to the (Lutheran Church-Canada) most recently. There’s a new group called the Canadian Association of Lutheran Churches who have stepped aside on this issue and said, ‘We don’t want any part of a church that is blessing same-sex marriages or rostered clergy who are gay.’ So we’ve already lost some, and I think we’ll lose a few more. Some congregations, some pastors, and within each individual parish we’ll probably lose a few. But it’s a risk that the church is willing to take.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Christian Life / Church LifeParish MinistryMinistry of the Ordained* Culture-WatchLaw & Legal IssuesMarriage & FamilyReligion & CultureSexuality--Civil Unions & Partnerships* International News & CommentaryCanada* Religion News & CommentaryOther ChurchesLutheranSexuality Debate (Other denominations and faiths)

1 Comments
Posted July 25, 2011 at 5:30 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

The latest casualty of the long-running Protestant conflicts over the Bible and homosexuality is a massive network of social service agencies that work in areas ranging from adoption to disaster relief.

The theologically conservative Lutheran Church-Missouri Synod announced this week that direct work with its larger and more liberal counterpart, the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America, has become "difficult if not impossible," because of doctrinal differences, including the 2009 decision by liberal Lutherans to lift barriers for ordaining gays and lesbians.

Neither denomination would discuss the potential financial impact Wednesday. Many Lutheran-affiliated agencies receive substantial state and federal money through contracts and grants that would not be directly affected by any split. However, similar to Catholic Charities, Lutheran agencies are some of the biggest service providers in their communities and have been struggling to meet increased demand for help during the recession.

Read it all.


Filed under: * Religion News & CommentaryOther ChurchesLutheranSexuality Debate (Other denominations and faiths)

0 Comments
Posted July 24, 2011 at 2:00 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

New York--After same-sex marriage becomes legal here on July 24, gay priests with partners in the Episcopal Diocese of Long Island will head to the altar. They have to. Their bishop set a nine-month deadline for them to marry or stop living together.

Next door, meanwhile, the Episcopal bishop of New York says he also expects gay clergy in committed relationships to wed "in due course." Still, this longtime supporter of gay rights says churches in his diocese are off limits for gay weddings until he receives clearer liturgical guidance from the national denomination.

As more states legalize same-sex marriage, religious groups with ambiguous policies on homosexuality are divided over whether they should allow the ceremonies in local congregations. The decision is especially complex in the mainline Protestant denominations that have yet to fully resolve their disagreements over the Bible and homosexuality. Many have taken steps toward acceptance of gay ordination and same-gender couples without changing the official definition of marriage in church constitutions and canons. With the exception of the United Church of Christ, which approved gay marriage six years ago, none of the larger mainline churches has a national liturgy for same-sex weddings or even blessing ceremonies.

Read it all.


Filed under: * Anglican - EpiscopalEpiscopal Church (TEC)TEC BishopsTEC ParishesSexuality Debate (in Anglican Communion)Same-sex blessings* Christian Life / Church LifeLiturgy, Music, WorshipParish Ministry* Culture-WatchLaw & Legal IssuesMarriage & FamilySexuality--Civil Unions & Partnerships* Religion News & CommentaryOther ChurchesLutheranMethodistPresbyterianSexuality Debate (Other denominations and faiths)

4 Comments
Posted July 16, 2011 at 12:02 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

For years, Guy Erwin worked toward becoming a Lutheran minister, knowing the whole time his church wouldn't ordain him because he is gay.

Now Erwin, 53, is one of two California Lutheran University professors who were ordained recently because the Lutheran and Episcopal churches changed their policies on ordaining [non-celibate] gay and lesbian clergy.

"I had thought, 'Maybe it's too late for me,'" said Erwin, who was ordained at CLU in May. "But my friends said, 'The church has been calling you all these years.' It has ended up being a point of great joy."

Read it all.

Filed under: * Anglican - EpiscopalEpiscopal Church (TEC)Sexuality Debate (in Anglican Communion)Same-sex blessings* Christian Life / Church LifeParish MinistryMinistry of the Ordained* Religion News & CommentaryOther ChurchesLutheranSexuality Debate (Other denominations and faiths)

1 Comments
Posted June 29, 2011 at 6:35 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

A jury of United Methodist Church ministers voted 9-4 Thursday to suspend Reverend Amy DeLong for 20 days, effective July 1st.

DeLong is from Osceola, in western Wisconsin. The church trial was held in Kaukauna.

Wednesday the same jury found Rev. DeLong guilty of performing a same-sex holy union ceremony -- a violation of the church's Book of Discipline -- after three hours of deliberations.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Religion News & CommentaryOther ChurchesMethodistSexuality Debate (Other denominations and faiths)* TheologyEthics / Moral TheologyPastoral Theology

5 Comments
Posted June 24, 2011 at 6:22 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Methodist pastors who have increasingly defied a church ban on marrying gays were dealt a setback Wednesday when a colleague was found guilty in a church trial of marrying a lesbian couple in 2009.

A 13-person jury of clergy peers unanimously convicted The Rev. Amy DeLong of Osceola. The jury found the 44-year-old not guilty of a second charge of being a "self-avowed practicing homosexual." That vote was 12-1.

After the verdicts were announced Wednesday afternoon, church officials began hearing a second round of testimony to help jurors recommend a penalty that could range from suspension to defrocking. At least five DeLong supporters were scheduled to testify.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchMarriage & FamilyReligion & CultureSexuality--Civil Unions & Partnerships* Religion News & CommentaryOther ChurchesMethodistSexuality Debate (Other denominations and faiths)

8 Comments
Posted June 23, 2011 at 11:30 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

For the seventh time in 20 years, The United Methodist Church will wrestle with the issue of homosexuality in a public church trial.

The Rev. Amy DeLong, a lesbian clergy member of the Wisconsin Annual (regional) Conference, faces two charges of violating church law and the possibility of losing her ministerial credentials this week. Her trial begins June 21 at Peace United Methodist Church in Kaukauna, Wis.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Christian Life / Church LifeLiturgy, Music, WorshipParish MinistryMinistry of the Ordained* Religion News & CommentaryOther ChurchesMethodistSexuality Debate (Other denominations and faiths)

9 Comments
Posted June 21, 2011 at 4:16 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

United Methodists will begin a trial Tuesday (June 21) against a Wisconsin minister who’s accused of breaking church rules by celebrating a same-sex marriage and being in a lesbian relationship.

The Rev. Amy DeLong, 44, of Osceola, Wis., could be defrocked if the 13-member jury composed of local clergy finds her guilty of either charge.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Religion News & CommentaryOther ChurchesMethodistSexuality Debate (Other denominations and faiths)

2 Comments
Posted June 21, 2011 at 11:30 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

An Aberdeen church is expected to break away from the Church of Scotland following the decision to allow the appointment of gay ministers.

Gilcomston South Church in Union Street will formally vote on the issue at a later date.

The Kirk's General Assembly last month voted to allow the induction of some gay ministers.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Christian Life / Church LifeParish Ministry* Culture-WatchReligion & CultureSexuality--Civil Unions & Partnerships* Religion News & CommentaryOther ChurchesPresbyterianSexuality Debate (Other denominations and faiths)* TheologyAnthropologyEthics / Moral TheologyTheology: Scripture

0 Comments
Posted June 10, 2011 at 5:15 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Illinois' civil union law not only empowers clergy to officiate same-sex civil unions, it has inspired a long-awaited formal rite in Chicago's Episcopal Church and now compels many clergy in committed same-sex relationships to make them legal.

Chicago's Episcopal and Lutheran bishops this week unveiled new policies for openly gay pastors in committed relationships and those who want to officiate same-sex civil unions. Many clergy already informally blessed same-gender partnerships.

"Now with the possibility of civil recognition of lifelong unions, the blessing of unions from a Christian perspective will have a different character, where before it has been purely a pastoral matter," said Chicago Episcopal Bishop Jeffrey Lee.

Read it all.

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3 Comments
Posted June 2, 2011 at 3:45 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

For the Elderton Lutheran Parish, the national church's 2009 vote to permit some gay clergy appeared to be a final sign that the denomination had pulled up its biblical roots. Last winter it left the 4.5 million-member Evangelical Lutheran Church in America for a new Lutheran body, as have seven other congregations from the Southwestern Pennsylvania Synod. Another four are in the process of voting to leave.

"There is no hostility toward the ELCA. Yes, it was difficult, but it was a matter of understanding who we are as children of God," said the Rev. Joyce Dix-Weiers, pastor of the two linked congregations in such a remote part of unincorporated Armstrong County that the mailing address is Shelocta, Indiana County.

"The ordination... [question] was the tip of the iceberg. The question of how the church understands scriptural authority was the crux of the problem."

Read it all.

Filed under: * Religion News & CommentaryOther ChurchesLutheranSexuality Debate (Other denominations and faiths)* TheologyAnthropologyEthics / Moral TheologyTheology: Scripture

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Posted June 1, 2011 at 6:51 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

For orthodox theologians such as Larry Gember, pastor of St. James Lutheran Church in Greenfield, the ELCA’s decision went a step too far.

“The primary issue is not sexuality,” Gember, 59, said Wednesday. “It’s that the authority of Scripture is being undermined.”

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Filed under: * Christian Life / Church LifeParish Ministry* Religion News & CommentaryOther ChurchesLutheranSexuality Debate (Other denominations and faiths)

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Posted May 25, 2011 at 5:00 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

The depth of the split between the progressive and traditionalists appeared during a debate over the section that would allow the induction of ministers and deacons "ordained before May 2009 who are in a same-sex relationship".

Traditionalists claimed that the section was a "Trojan horse" which could pull the church apart.

The Rev Andrew Coghill, of the Presbytery of Lewis, described the section as a "hand grenade". He said: "I believe it will be ruinous for unity of the church, potentially multiplying homosexual inductions the length and breadth of the country. The church almost pulled apart over one such induction."

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Filed under: * Christian Life / Church LifeParish MinistryMinistry of the Ordained* International News & CommentaryEngland / UK--Scotland* Religion News & CommentaryOther ChurchesPresbyterianSexuality Debate (Other denominations and faiths)

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Posted May 24, 2011 at 6:30 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

For those Kirk members who feel compelled to leave the Church following today's vote, the question of where they go is littered with potential problems, both theological and practical. If, as it would seem, it is more likely those in the traditionalist wing of the Church walk, then there are two options.

The first is to splinter entirely and form themselves into an entirely new presbyterian church. Such an outcome would be similar to that of the Disruption in 1843, when the Kirk split over the Church's relationship with the state, resulting in the formation of the Free Church of Scotland....

The second path would see members of the Kirk moving to the Free Church of Scotland, which holds a staunchly conservative view on homosexuality....

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Filed under: * Christian Life / Church LifeParish Ministry* Culture-WatchReligion & Culture* International News & CommentaryEngland / UK--Scotland* Religion News & CommentaryOther ChurchesPentecostalSexuality Debate (Other denominations and faiths)* TheologyEcclesiologyEthics / Moral Theology

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Posted May 24, 2011 at 6:15 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

The Church of Scotland has voted to allow the possible selection of gay and lesbian ministers in the future.

The controversial issue was being debated at the Kirk's General Assembly.

A theological commission will now be set up and will report in 2013 before a final decision on the issue of gay ordination is taken.

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Filed under: * International News & CommentaryEngland / UK--Scotland* Religion News & CommentaryOther ChurchesPresbyterianSexuality Debate (Other denominations and faiths)

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Posted May 23, 2011 at 4:55 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

What the Assembly agreed today was this:
Resolve to consider further the lifting of the moratorium on the acceptance for training and ordination of persons in a same-sex relationship, and to that end instruct the Theological Commission to prepare a report for the General Assembly of 2013 containing:
(i) a theological discussion of issues around same-sex relationships, civil partnerships and marriage;
(ii) an examination of whether, if the Church were to allow its ministers freedom of conscience in deciding whether to bless same-sex relationships involving life-long commitments, the recognition of such lifelong relationships should take the form of a blessing of a civil partnership or should involve a liturgy to recognise and celebrate commitments which the parties enter into in a Church service in addition to the civil partnership, and if so to recommend liturgy therefor;
(iii) an examination of whether persons, who have entered into a civil partnership and have made lifelong commitments in a Church ceremony, should be eligible for admission for training, ordination and induction as ministers of Word and Sacrament or deacons in the context that no member of Presbytery will be required to take part in such ordination or induction against his or her conscience; and to report to the General Assembly of 2013.
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Filed under: * International News & CommentaryEngland / UK--Scotland* Religion News & CommentaryOther ChurchesPresbyterianSexuality Debate (Other denominations and faiths)

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Posted May 23, 2011 at 4:48 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

The General Assembly of the Church of Scotland has voted to continue dialogue on same-sex relationships and the ministry following the Special Commission report today.

After several hours of debate, commissioners voted by 351 to 294 to adopt deliverance 7B, which means a move towards the acceptance for training, induction and ordination of those in same-sex relationships for the ministry.

The Assembly also voted to allow ministers and deacons in same-sex relationships ordained before 2009 to be inducted into pastoral charges by 393 to 252.

A theological commission will be set up to bring recommendations to the 2013 General Assembly, as well as considering whether ministers should have freedom of conscience to bless civil partnerships and possible liturgy for such occasions.

As nothing has been formally enacted, the proposals do not need to consult the Kirk’s 46 presbyteries under the Barrier Act, but it does mark a significant departure from the Church’s traditional teaching, as acknowledged by the Commission’s report.

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Filed under: * International News & CommentaryEngland / UK--Scotland* Religion News & CommentaryOther ChurchesPresbyterianSexuality Debate (Other denominations and faiths)

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Posted May 23, 2011 at 4:35 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Read it all.

Filed under: * International News & CommentaryEngland / UK--Scotland* Religion News & CommentaryOther ChurchesPresbyterianSexuality Debate (Other denominations and faiths)

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Posted May 23, 2011 at 4:20 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Read it all (over 30 page pdf).

Filed under: * International News & CommentaryEngland / UK--Scotland* Religion News & CommentaryOther ChurchesPresbyterianSexuality Debate (Other denominations and faiths)

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Posted May 23, 2011 at 4:01 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]




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