Friday, March 14, 2014

NY Methodist Bishop Allows Same-sex Marriages

Bishop Martin D. McLee announced that he will no longer require clergy in his New York region of the United Methodist Church (UMC) to abide by the denomination's restriction on pastors performing same-sex weddings.  However, denomination leaders are preparing to put another bishop on trial for violating that restriction. Schism seems inevitable.

For background, read Homosexualists Say, Take Methodist Denomination by Force and also read Bishop Melvin G. Talbert Breaks UMC Covenant via 'Gay Marriage'

-- From "Methodist Bishop to End Trials for Ministers Who Perform Gay Weddings" by Sharon Otterman, New York Times 3/10/14

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.

. . . Bishop McLee, who oversees about 460 churches in lower New York State and Connecticut, agreed to drop all charges against [the Methodist minister and retired dean of Yale Divinity School, Dr. Thomas W.] Ogletree; in exchange, he asked only that Dr. Ogletree participate in a dialogue about the church and its stance on matters of sexuality. Promoting dialogue, the bishop said, could be a model for other United Methodist bishops to follow.

. . . about 1,500 United Methodist ministers around the country have pledged to officiate same-sex unions in defiance of the rules, including 217 clergy in the New York Annual Conference. Bishop McLee’s move, said Dorothee Benz, who leads a pro-gay rights group, Methodists in New Directions, shows that “the bishops are starting to catch the same drift.”

To read the entire article above, CLICK HERE.

From "United Methodist Church won’t defrock former Yale Divinity School dean who performed gay wedding" by Jim Shelton, New Haven Register 3/10/14

Bishop Martin D. McLee of the church’s New York Annual Conference said his district agreed to a “cessation” of church trials against Methodist clergy who officiate at same-sex weddings. The district will organize public forums for a “spiritual conversation” about the issue.

“Church trials produce no winners,” McLee said. “Church trials result in harmful polarization and continue the harm brought upon our gay and lesbian brothers and sisters.”

Gregory E. Sterling, the current dean of [Yale Divinity School] said he was “immensely relieved” at the outcome of Ogletree’s case.

“This would have been seen as an example of Christianity hurting humans and human rights, rather than supporting human rights,” Sterling said.

The resolution only applies to the New York Annual Conference . . .

To read the entire article above, CLICK HERE.

From "Conservative Methodists Upset by UMC Bishop's Decision to Drop Church Trial of Pastor Who Officiated Son's Gay Wedding" by Michael Gryboski, Christian Post Reporter 3/12/14

"We are deeply disappointed in the decision to negotiate a settlement that contains no consequences for Dr. Ogletree's disobedience," [conservative leader Rev. Tom] Lambrecht told The Christian Post. "Such a decision puts the will of individuals above the requirements of our church covenant and nullifies the will of the General Conference, which has been prayerfully and democratically arrived at and sustained for over 40 years."

Lambrecht also told CP that Bishop McLee's decision to halt church trials for UMC clergy who perform gay weddings "is a green light for clergy to disregard our church covenant and Discipline."

"The commitment sets a pattern for other bishops and annual [regional] conferences to follow, and it increases the distrust and division within the church," said Lambrecht. "This course of action by the bishop reneges on the commitment he and the entire Council of Bishops made in 2012 to continue to uphold the Discipline, despite our disagreements."

John Lomperis, director of the United Methodist program at The Institute on Religion and Democracy, told CP . . . "Bishop McLee has ensured a prolonging and an intensification of our denomination's internal conflicts. No wonder his region is losing members so rapidly."

To read the entire article above, CLICK HERE.

From "United Methodist bishop may face trial for presiding at gay wedding" by Renee K. Gadoua, Religion News Service, Washington Post 3/13/14

Complaints have been filed against [Bishop Melvin G. Talbert,] a United Methodist bishop who presided over a same-sex wedding of two men in defiance of his denomination’s rules prohibiting such ceremonies.

According to a statement from the [UMC] Council of Bishops on Thursday (March 13), Talbert “has violated the sacred trust of his office.”

The church’s disciplinary process could lead to a trial and the loss of Talbert’s clergy credentials. Several other United Methodist clergy face possible trials, as the denomination grows increasingly polarized over church law over ministry to the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender community.

To read the entire article above, CLICK HERE.

From "The Coming Methodist Schism" by Rod Dreher, The American Conservative 3/11/14

A Methodist pastor responded to my request yesterday for someone within Methodism to explain what’s going on in the church in light of the news that the Methodist pastor who conducted a marriage service for his gay son would not be tried in church court for violating church discipline. Will there be a schism? I asked. The pastor responds:
You ask will there be a schism? Yes. . . .

Your second question was how do you avoid one?  I do not see how.  The covenant, and that is what the Book of Discipline is, has been broken.  There is no fixing it. . . .

Finally you ask if it is desirable to avoid schism.  Two years ago I would have said at all costs.  Now I do not think we should avoid it and indeed I think the sooner we get it over with the better all involved will be. . . . I want to pastor my flock, lead worship, preside at the sacraments, preach the word, and serve the least of these.  I do not want to argue about things on which the Bible is clear. . . .

. . . The UMC is in decline in the US, slower then our fellow mainline denominations but declining nonetheless, and that pace of decline will soon pick up as more and more of our members die off. . . .
To read the entire article above, CLICK HERE.

Also read Liberal 'Churches' Continue to Wither as well as Liberal 'Churches' Conforming to Decadent Culture

In addition, read President Obama's National Cathedral is the Seat of Apostasy

For myriad attacks on the Bible and Christian faith, read CBS Gives Voice to Atheists, Heretics, & Apostates