Post submitted by Diane Martin, HRC Religion and Faith Assistant

Following a high-profile church trial in December, former Pennsylvania pastor Frank Schaefer was defrocked for presiding at his son’s same-sex wedding ceremony, causing many in the UMC community to openly question, and in some cases defy United Methodist law defining marriage as between a man and a woman.  Now, just barely one month later, a second United Methodist pastor is facing a church trial for officiating at his son’s wedding to another man.  The Rev. Thomas Ogletree is set to face trial on March 19 in Stamford, Connecticut. 

United Methodist Bishop Minerva G. Carcano told The Washington Post, “The defrocking of Frank Schaefer brought great shame to our denomination and much pain to our LGBTQ brothers and sisters.”  And yet, while church trials continue, Bishop Carcano expressed hope for change, saying, “People are stepping up and expressing what they feel in ways I have not seen before,” she said.

Every week Methodist ministers are speaking out on the online platform Methodists in New Directions (MIND), a grassroots organization of United Methodists working to end UMC doctrinal prejudice and institutional discrimination against LGBT people and allies.  As of date, 14 UMC clergy have “come out” on MIND as supporters of marriage equality and as having performed same-sex marriages. 

Bishop Minerva identifies this groundswell of public support for LGBT persons and allies as critical for the movement towards equality: “It is a moment of real possibility for change in the church.” With organizations like MIND and an increasing number of individuals boldly speaking out in support of marriage equality, UMC officials can no longer remain oblivious to the widespread calls to eliminate discriminatory church laws. 

HRC stands with Rev. Ogletree and all United Methodist Church members who are speaking up for equality, working to ensure that the church be a welcoming home for all those who seek it.

HRC’s Religion and Faith Program seeks to engage all faith traditions in a deeper dialogue on questions of fairness and equality for LGBT Americans. Interested in keeping up with news like this? Subscribe to HRC’s Religion & Faith Newsletter now.

Filed under: Religion & Faith

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