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Dissent Mounting Over Anti-Gay Methodist Rulings


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Dissent Mounting Over Anti-Gay Methodist Rulings

by 365Gay.com Newscenter Staff

Posted: November 4, 2005 7:30 pm ET

(Denver Colorado) Two rulings this week by the highest court in the United Methodist Church on the role of gays is dividing the denomination, with many members calling for a more liberal view of homosexuality and same-sex relationships.

Nearly 100 faculty and students from the Iliff School of Theology staged a protest vigil this week in front of Denver's United Methodist headquarters over the rulings. The Denver school is a United Methodist seminary.

At the same time, across the country, the Church's bishops were voicing their opposition to at least one of the rulings.

On Monday the United Methodist Church's Judicial Council overturned a lower church court ruling and ordered the defrocking of a lesbian pastor who is in a committed relationship with another woman. (story)

The United Methodist Church accepts gay and lesbian ministers as long as they are celibate.

The Rev. Beth Stroud notified her Germantown, Pennsylvania congregation of the relationship in a sermon on April 27, 2003. Her bishop immediately began procedures to remove Stroud from the ministry.

In a second LGBT case, the Judicial Council ordered the reinstatement of a rural Virginia minister placed on leave for denying a gay man membership in his church last winter. (story)

The Council decided the Rev. Edward Johnson was within his ministerial rights when he denied membership to the would-be parishioner.

Anger at the rulings reached the very top of the Iliff School of Theology.

"[it's] a very sad and offensive decision" Iliff interim president Phil Wogaman said of the ruling reinstating Johnson.

On the Stroud decision, the Rev. Gil Caldwell, a former member of the Iliff board of trustees and a retired United Methodist minister, said it was misguided.

Caldwell, who worked with the Rev. Martin Luther King in the civil rights movement, told the crowd that Stroud faces a worse situation than the late Rosa Parks.

"Even though Rosa Parks was forced to sit in the back of the bus, at least she had a place on the bus," Caldwell said.

While the protestors were holding their vigil in Denver, the Church's 65 active bishops were issuing a dissent of their own.

The bishops were meeting at a Methodist retreat in North Carolina.

The prepared a pastoral letter to to be read in all United Methodist Churches this Sunday criticizing the Judicial Council ruling on Johnson.

"While pastors have the responsibility to discern readiness for membership, homosexuality is not a barrier," the letter says.

©365Gay.com 2005


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