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BETTY ROLLIN, correspondent: The Metropolitan United Methodist Church in Washington, DC recently had an unusual celebration. The event, called “Church Quake,” honored married couples of the same sex and the clergy who married them.

Retired bishop Melvin Talbert was the first Methodist bishop to publicly endorse same-sex marriage, which is prohibited in the church’s Book of Discipline.

RETIRED BISHOP MELVIN TALBERT: (preaching) I felt the time had come for clergy to give leadership to their congregations and it’s time for clergy to refuse to convict their colleagues for doing the right thing.

ROLLIN: One of those colleagues, who is facing a potential church trial for performing a same-sex marriage, is 79 year old Rev. Tom Ogletree, the retired dean of Yale Divinity School.

The marriage that Rev. Ogletree performed was that of his own son, Thomas.

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REV. TOM OGLETREE: I was thrilled that he asked me to play a role because I’ve known he was gay for a long time and we’ve been watching him, you know, adjust and adapt to the demands of the culture in creative ways.

ROLLIN: Since 1972 the Methodist Church’s Book of Discipline has stated that “the practice of homosexuality is incompatible with Christian teaching” and the book prohibits Methodist ministers from performing same-sex marriages. Rev. Ogletree knowingly violated the law and says he is proud of doing so.

REV. OGLETREE: I was inspired by Dr. King during my participation in the Civil Rights Movement when he said that an unjust law is no law. These are unjust laws, and therefore they do not really have the authority of law, even though technically they are established in the discipline.

REV. ROB RENFROE (Woodland United Methodist Church): We can't all be a community and just decide that some laws are ones that appeal to us, others we think are unreasonable and we can go do whatever we want to without there being some kind of repercussions.

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ROLLIN: Reverend Rob Renfroe of the Woodland United Methodist Church near Houston is one of many members of the Methodist clergy with a different view—a view that condemns the practice of homosexuality in general.

REV. RENFROE: There is not any passage in scripture that is condoning or accepting of that practice. That's why those of us who see the Bible as God's word say we have to be true to what the Bible teaches when it's clear, when it's unmitigated, then it's really a matter of whether or not we will be faithful to what God has revealed.

ROLLIN: Rev. Ogletree, who is a scholar of Christian ethics, feels that the Bible is often misinterpreted.

REV. OGLETREE: If you look carefully at the scripture you’ll find it has no concept of homosexuality or sexual orientation at all. And if you learn to read it in context and see the evolving traditions as we try to interpret it, then you realize that that’s an oversimplified reading. After all, the scripture seems to accommodate slavery. So should we then have slaves? They say women should be subordinate to their husband. Then let’s tell women to shut up and stop talking to us, especially in public. The point is when you only select certain texts that support your prejudices, then you’re not reading the scripture seriously.

REV. SCOTT SUMMERVILLE: (preaching) Will the congregation please rise? I invite us now to be in a spirit of prayer...

ROLLIN: Reverend Scott Summerville is pastor of the Asbury Crestwood Methodist Church in Tuckahoe, New York. He, too, is critical of the law and feels that the Methodist church’s stance on gay marriage is hypocritical.

REV. SUMMERVILLE: (preaching) "You can worship here, love to have you, but frankly you can never be fully 100% one of us. There must always be a distinction between us, you see our rule book demands that we make this distinction whether we wish to or not, but we love you."

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ROLLIN: Dorothee Benz and Carol Scott married in Rev. Summerville’s church. Dorothee is the director of Methodists in New Directions—MIND—which has mobilized Methodist clergy who support and have agreed to conduct same-sex marriages.

DOROTHEE BENZ (Methodists in New Directions): We have basically found a way around the paralysis that’s caused by the church’s requirement to discriminate, which is we’re just not discriminating anymore. What the church does through its discrimination and prejudice has a wider effect. It gives moral cover to people who vote against us in legislatures; it gives moral cover to queer bashers who bash us in back alleys, so the effect is huge.

ROLLIN: At one point Dorothee wanted to become one of the clergy herself but could not because of her homosexuality.

BENZ: You sit in the pew. You’re not allowed to get married there, you’re not maybe not even be a member there. What are you learning about yourself that God supposedly thinks about you and certainly that your fellow churchgoers and leaders think about you? That’s a terrible message.

CAROL SCOTT: Because that message is not only going to the queer folks who are sitting in the pews feeling excluded and discriminated against and hated. That message is going to the straight people who are sitting there, to the kids down in Sunday school who are growing up learning all of these people are less than, don’t deserve as much as, or not equal, or whatever.

REV. RENFROE: (preaching) But one day we're going to look back on our lives and we're going to wonder what did I do with it?

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ROLLIN: But Rev. Renfroe feels that those who accept homosexuality in the church are just giving in to the politically correct view.

REV. RENFROE: I'm afraid that the church will give into the culture, I'm afraid that the church will sell it's birthright for a mess of porridge, that we will try to please a culture that is not really interested in the Gospel of Jesus Christ, thinking that if we make little changes so that we appear to be warm and accepting, that they'll come our way.

ROLLIN: The Methodist church is losing membership in the United States and gaining conservative members internationally, especially in Africa where homosexuality is frequently reviled.

REV. RENFROE: The church where it's most liberal is declining most rapidly, so the number going to represent a progressive point of view will be even fewer in 2016 than it was in 2012. Where the church is most conservative is where the church is either the most stable or it's the most growing, so the numbers simply are not in favor of changing our position in the discipline.

ROLLIN: Meanwhile, Rev. Ogletree’s trial is pending and could be dismissed.

REV. OGLETREE: I believe that the Methodist Church is open to change here. And that it’s important then to join the people within the denomination who want that change.

ROLLIN: And those on his side of the issue have some hope about amending the Book of Discipline.

BENZ: The Book of Discipline starts with a preamble that acknowledges the church’s past failings and we are hopeful that maybe someday there’s a new passage in there, so I mean, it’s possible.

ROLLIN: But the next opportunity to change the Book of Discipline won’t be until 2016, when the worldwide church gathers at the Methodist General Conference. For Religion & Ethics NewsWeekly, I’m Betty Rollin in Washington, DC.

Methodist Gay Marriage

The United Methodist Church’s Book of Discipline states that “the practice of homosexuality is incompatible with Christian teaching,” and it prohibits Methodist ministers from performing same-sex marriages. But “these are unjust laws,” says Rev. Thomas Ogletree, “and therefore they do not really have the authority of law.”

  • rebupc

    to all the Methodist’s who wish to worship according to Bible standards, I cordially invite you to the United Pentecostal Church, where the Holy Spirit still reigns!

  • Pubilius

    and which standards would that be? Whose standards will that be? Whose interpretations? I promise you, the Holy Spirit still works in the UMC and in the world.

  • Mg3440

    Aww, go back to your snake handling.

  • Johnny Lee

    The letter j is 500 years old. The name Jesus is less than 250 years old. Repent and obey the Gospel. John 3:5, Acts 2:38 In Yeshuas name. Acts 4:12. Praying for you upc, take the name.

  • Kimberlee

    I am not a Methodist, though I have Methodist family members and an Anglican husband. I know this is a really emotional and divisive issue for many Christian faithful. I respect the sincere differences of opinion that people hold. In my own faith, we are urged to find solutions to conflict rather than to simply disobey or go our own way. For that reason, I might have recommended to the clergyman whose son asked him to officiate at his wedding, that he find a clergy person from a religion or denomination that officiates gay marriages, have that person act as marriage official, and participate in the ceremony only as a parent supporting his son, rather than openly breaking the laws of his church. Certainly he can then advocate for a change in the church laws when a change can be considered. But it is sad to see churches being town apart over this issue.

  • Kimberlee

    I ought to clarify: I am a Baha’i. Baha’i marriage is a union between a man and a woman, and sexual relations are restricted to a couple who are married to each other. So we do not officiate homosexual marriages. However, we do not seek to impose our values on others, nor do we pass judgment on others not of our Faith. Accordingly, we neither oppose nor support civil same-sex marriage, as that is a civil matter to be decided by the legislatures and electorate. And, we are enjoined to manifest respect and dignity towards all and exhorted to be “an upholder and defender of the victim of oppression”, so we would come to the defense of gays whose fundamental rights are being denied or violated in all other ways. Also, we are discouraged from singling out homosexuality over other transgressions of our laws, such as consuming alcohol, using drugs other than those prescribed by a physician, or heterosexual adultery and promiscuity. While requiring uprightness in all matters of morality, the Bahá’í teachings also take account of human frailty and call for tolerance and understanding in regard to human failings. (see http://www.bahai.org for more info)

  • Sergey

    But they have another grave unjustice, alcophobia. Methodists discriminate against our vodka-drinking brothers and sisters!

  • dk_adams

    As Christians, followers of Jesus, we are called to fight injustice wherever we experience it; whether it be opposing those who oppose gay marriage, opposing those who keep gay people from serving the church, opposing those who keep food from the hungry or opposing those who don’t think that people should be able to have affordable insurance.

  • Nanette Cole

    This is one of the reasons I left the Methodist Church many years ago….they and their ”holier than thou” attitudes. Then, I guess it was not just the Methodist Church I left, but, Christianity. The concept of Jesus does not set well with me as it was all made up at Charlemagne’s Council of Nicene—300+ years after Jesus died.

  • bevrain

    Rev Ogletree and many others have been advocating for change in the Methodist church for several years, but the Book of Discip[line can only be amended at the General Conference, which happens only once every four years. At the 2012 General Conference, those who tried to open dialogue and change were jeered hatefully and driven out by those who, supposedly, represent God’s love for ALL. Advising people who disagree with the Methodist Book of Discipline to just find another church is like telling Americans who disagree with US policy to move to another country; it is our home! BTW, the Methodist church only adopted this homophobic position in the 1970s, about the same time as they finally got around to ending the ban on inter-racial marriages. Good God-fearing Christians have used the Bible to justify every heinous behavior of mankind, including Jim Crow, slavery and countless genocides. That is not what I learned in church.

  • Inaldo Francisco Barreto Barre

    This is an isolated incident perpetrated by a minister who retired and decided for yourself practice their own doctrine. Neither deserves to be commented

  • Inaldo Francisco Barreto Barre

    This retired minister does not represent the thoughts Methodist.

  • Inaldo Francisco Barreto Barre

    It’s a confusion with what the state determines the desire of the church to follow the laws of the country. The church is separated from the state, so do not have to follow the Congres´s law, but must to stick with the New Testament, that is his constitution

    We’ll let the gays attend, but as a visitor without strategic position in Church, whether they want all rights then, they need to organize a church in their model. and make a new bible interpretation restrictive for them.

  • Bob Buice

    The Council of Nicaea (325 CE) was called by the emperor Constantine I, rather than Charlemagne. The council established a belief in the Trinity, rather than the Arian belief that Christ is lesser than God. The concept of Jesus waas not “all made up” at the council.

  • Bob Buice

    The scripture, 1 Corinthians 14: 34 – 36, clearly states that women cannot speak in church, yet we ordain lady pastors. Any scripture has to be interpreted in light of the culture surrounding its authorship. We need to consider that certain scriptures imply practices that are absurd in the present-day.

  • Kimberlee

    Bob, I’ve read an explanation of this that makes a little more sense to me. That is, Paul found a lot of chaos, noise and confusion in the Corinthian church and gave them some directives to keep things a little more organized. One was that a married woman should consult at home with her husband, and have him as head of the family, ask any questions in church. He doesn’t make this same statement for women who are not married. Also, he clearly shows in Corinthians 11:5 that women did “speak” (pray or prophesy) publicly in the church; he just required they cover their heads when doing so.

  • Pastor John

    Olgletree’s wife co-officiate as a UCC clergy person. They had the option of working under an existing system. He chose to go against his denomination as a retired clergy person, knowing full well there was nothing the denomination could do to him.

  • Kimberlee

    bevrain, thanks for the explanation! Just to clarify, I wasn’t suggesting he leave the church, only that he find a different marriage official rather than violate church rules. My husband is Anglican and his priest would not officiate at our marriage as I am not a member of a Christian denomination. I would never have asked that priest to violate his church’s laws and officiate anyway, nor would I ask my husband to leave his church. We simply had a Baha’i marriage official (Baha’is are able to marry anyone of any faith, or even no faith, no problem; just not homosexuals), and I incorporated Christian scripture and hymns in the ceremony to honor my husband’s beliefs (Baha’is believe in Jesus and the Bible also, so no problem.) My only point is that if some members of the church seek change in some positions, and it is not the majority view, they can choose to be patient, loving, and obedient while seeking to persuade enough others of the reasonableness of their proposal, rather than embroil the church in divisive arguments. God bless!

  • Kimberlee

    Nanette,
    I actually shared with you a similar struggle. As a youth, I could not bring myself to join a particular church because I didn’t find logic in the doctrines and dogma, no matter how much my spirit loved the simple message of Jesus in the Gospels. In addition, I struggled with the concept of a God who only sent prophets to a tiny part of the world, and left all His other children to await the arrival of missionaries centuries, if not millenia, later. I encountered the Baha’i Faith at the age of 18, and it satisfied both my spirit and brain. I’m now 60 years old, and a true believer in the unity of mankind. Founded in the 1800s, the Baha’i Faith, while small in number, is the most widespread religion in the world, after Christianity. Our world center is on Mt Carmel, in Israel. We have no clergy, accept no funds from anyone outside our faith, actively work towards peace in the world, and promote the elimination of prejudices, the equality of men and women, spiritual solutions to the world’s economic problems, and raising kind and non-violent children and youth who are committed to lives of service to their fellow man. I worship in loving fellowship with Christians, Buddhists, Muslims, Jews, and Hindus and respect each persons right to investigate and find their own spiritual path. Check it out, and God bless. http://www.bahai.org or http://www.bahai.us

  • Kimberlee

    Bob, let me add that I understand Biblical scholars are not in agreement on the role of women in the early church. But there is substantial evidence that women served in many roles in the earliest days of the church: Several people (apart from The Twelve) are mentioned as being apostles. One of these is a woman – Junia, who with Andronicus (possibly her husband), were members of a church in Rome whom Paul greets in Romans 16:7. In the 13th century, her name was masculinized by a translator, and many Christians since did not know she was a woman. Women prophets included Philip’s four unmarried daughters (Acts 21:9). The 4th century historian Eusebius described these women as “mighty luminaries” and ranked them “among the first stage in the apostolic succession.” Euodia and Syntyche were women who were warmly regarded and respected as fellow-evangelists by Paul (Php 4:2-3). Paul greatly esteemed Phoebe (Romans 16:1-2) and described her as both a diakonos and a prostatis. It seems that Phoebe traveled widely and brought the Gospel to foreign lands where she effectively ministered as an apostle-evangelist. In addition, several women are identified as leaders of home churches. How specific denominations define the role of women in their church leadership and administration is of course their own decision; but Christian women can study the stories of these early church women and find their own path of service.

  • Kimberlee

    I share your commitment to fight injustice wherever you find it. But there is a difference between, say, advocating and voting for legislative change to protect the “right to life” of unborn babies, and fighting for their rights by bombing abortion clinics with medical staff and patients inside.

  • Kimberlee

    Bob, minor clarification. The trinitarian vs non-trinitarian struggle continued past the Council of Nicaea, as Constantine himself waffled between the two concepts, recalling Arius from exile (ca 328 CE) and sending Athanasius into exile (ca 336 CE) before being baptised finally himself by a non-trinitarian bishop just before he dies in 337 CE. His empire is divided between 3 sons, two of whom are non-trinitarians and one who is “semi-arian.” One of them orders the return of Athansius from exile, though he is deposed and flees a year later. By 340 AD, with the death of one of Constantine’s sons, the empire is split in half between a western emperor who supports the Nicene theology, and an eastern ruler who opposes it. Around 342 or 343, the pro-Nicene emperor calls a council to try to restore church unity. It fails. He also recalls Athansius. The Arians continue to hold councils of their own to refine their doctrine. Around 350 CE the pro-Nicene emperor is murdered by a rebel, who is defeated about 3 years later by the “opposed to Nicene” emperor, and he becomes sole ruler of the empire and begins to work to eliminate Nicene theology. Multiple councils are held to try to reach church unity and by 360 CE reach agreement on a “semi-Arian” approach. The emperor dies around 361 CE and Julian, a pagan succeeds him. Julian is committed to restoring Rome’s values and pagan theology. He dies around 363 CE fighting the Persians and is replaced by Jovian, a Christian who is also a supporter of Athansius. During his very brief reign, he restored Christianity as the state religion, returned Athansius to power, and made certain pagan rites punishable by death. By 383 CE, a modified Nicene theology is agreed upon by all sides. From Jovian’s reign until the 15th century Christianity remained the dominant religion of both the Western and Eastern Roman Empires, until the Fall of Constantinople to the Turks in 1453.

  • Bob Buice

    Kimberlee – I am aware that the struggle continued, but I enjoyed reading your response. My primary point was that the Council of Nicaea (325 CE) was called by the emperor Constantine I, rather than Charlemagne & that the concept of Jesus was not “all made up” at the council. Thanks for your response. You are obviously very familiar with this topic.

  • dk_adams

    Hey, Kimberlee… no one is advocating bombing women’s clinics. As Christians, whatever we do must be done in love, and blowing up a clinic kinda puts a damper on that. Change, however it comes, should come non-violently. Thanx, and I hope you have a great day.

  • Bob Buice

    Kimberlee – I see your point as an individual interpretation of the passage. As written, the passage states that women should not speak in church, yet we ordain lady pastors. Could not similar individual interpretations be applied to anti-gay passages?

  • Lloyd A Dale

    I agree that God still works in in the UMC church. But, the way God works in your church is by trying to affect your conscience. If you are not willing to repent, God is not willing to give you repentance. And, that means you are not in agreement with Hid mind on the subject. You may not think God is fair and according to man’s thinking. He’s not. But, He is just. His word is forever settled in heaven and man cannot change what He has had written in the scriptures. Men laying with men and women with women is still against the mind of Christ and it’s sin. The UMC is not the Church that Jesus Christ started on the Day of Pentecost, and the United Pentecostal Church along with many other One God organizations come closer to obeying the true gospel than any other organization I am aware of.

  • Kimberlee

    Thanks, Bob! I understood your point! My husband is Christian and I hear the Nicene Creed recited every service I attend with him. I always smile when they say “begotten, not made”, since “begotten” was an intentional mistranslation by St Jerome when the Bible was put into Latin back in the 400s CE, and still appears in the KJV as a “tradition”, even though more recent translations have corrected the mistranslation. I love people who love Christ: I am always just saddened when they fight each other over issues which surely are little in comparison to the might and light of His revelation and message. Buddha said it best: don’t worry about theological matters, just focus on living your life the right way, with kindness and love for all (my paraphrase.) And in my faith we have a scripture somewhere that says something like, God will forgive us our misbeliefs and misunderstandings about doctrine and dogma, as He is Most Merciful.

  • Joshua

    Upholding the standard given to us by God is not an injustice. Promoting perversion of the standard as normal and acceptable is the injustice. This is just another example of white supremacy and another case of Satan making sin appear fair seeming. The Bible is clear about homosexuality and Jesus is clear that the purpose of a man and a woman is to leave their mother and father and become one flesh, what God has joined let man not separate. So Europeans think they are greater than the Father and can change and make up their own rules. More proof they are not the lost sheep Jesus came to save, but rather are the arrogant wicked tenants that rounded up the true Israelites and brought them to a foreign land and made slaves for 300 years. Europeans need to stop acting like spoiled brats and learn some humility and discipline and quit living in the ego.

  • Kimberlee

    Bob, if I were the leadership of a Christian Church and I knew there were members of the Church who had sincere and deep felt opinions on both sides of this issue, I would start with a very thorough investigation into the Biblical texts, both old testament and new. One of the worst things we do is take an English translation and our modern context and try to understand scriptures written in other languages and in other times. Rabbis, clergy, and Biblical scholars do have varying opinions on this issue in terms of the meaning and context of the prohibitions. I think with the Orthodox, Conservative, and Reform Jewish communities, you can find decisions that vary from no same-sex marriage allowed, congregational option whether or not to perform same sex marriages, or that married same sex couples are welcome but marriage must be by civil ceremony only as religious criteria are not met. And these may change, in future. Since Paul speaks from the context of Jewish law, it may be valuable to see all the rabbinical discussions on text, context, etc. And then to study the Christian clergy and scholar opinions. In the end, if a consensus cannot be reached, the majority should prevail. Doesn’t mean the matter couldn’t be discussed again in later years.All discussions should be respectful and in spirit of Christian love and fellowship.

    “Little children, yet a little while I am with you. Ye shall seek me: and as I said unto the Jews, Whither I go, ye cannot come; so now I say to you. A new commandment I give unto you, That ye love one another; as I have loved you, that ye also love one another. By this shall all men know that ye are my disciples, if ye have love one to another.”

  • Bob Buice

    Kimberlee – I agree with your last two posts, especially the point you made about Buddha. The New York Annual Conference of the United Methodist Church has voted to support same-sex marriages & to permit ordaining gays into the ministry. Unfortunately, the General Conference did not agree, so our Book of Discipline remains unchanged. The anti-gay attitudes in the UMC are based on a few isolated scriptural passages. I pointed out that there are other passages that we tend to ignore (e.g. women not speaking in church). Many members of the UMC do not understand the basis of their own theology & this leads to numerous conflicts. The fact is, in Methodism, our guide is not only the scriptures. Our guide is the Wesleyan Quadrilateral – SCRIPTURE, TRADITION, EXPERIENCE, all tempered by REASON. The few isolated anti-gay scriptures may not relate to the situation today, any more the one forbidding women to speak in church. WE have to employ REASON

  • Bob Buice

    Let me add that I looked up & read about the Baha’i Faith. Except that our head is Jesus Christ, I don’t see much upon which we do not agree.

  • Kimberlee

    Bob, you are very correct! And thank you for the additional background on this issue within the UMC. I have worshipped in Methodist churches on occasion, I have distant ancestors who became Methodists in England when the movement first started, and my father is buried in a Methodist churchyard, so I had a curiosity when I saw this article. I have greatly appreciated everyone’s informative comments and friendly banter!

  • Neil Cameron

    So you advocate for him, as a parent, to officiate at his heterosexual childrens marriages but to refer his homosexual son to another church?

    You are advocating for him to put the continuation of the status quo in his churches stance on homosexuality ahead of his fatherly love. You are advocating for him to send a clear message to his gay son that he does not fully accept him as he is, and that he will put his job first. You are advocating for his gay son to be treated differently to his non gay children. You are advocating for him to bring conflict and division into his family to avoid conflict and division in his church.

    You are asking him to compromise totally his familial obligation so as not to compromise the obligations of his work. Shifting the conflict out of the church and into his home does not serve him, it does not serve his son. It serves only to banish the existing conflict out the church. It solves nothing. It just moves the conflict away and makes it somebody else’s problem. The church in its isolated bubble no longer sees, hears or speaks of the issue as it is simply ‘out there’ in the lives of THEM. That is not conflict resolution, it is more akin to brushing the conflict under the rug.

    The poisonous attitudes of religion on issues of homosexuality have among the most profoundly and deeply personal impacts in the lives of homosexual men and women. It is those attitudes and beliefs and actions which damage the relationship between homosexuals and the church. Do you really believe that a father should allow that poison to enter the relationship between a father and a son? Do you really believe that the poison of church doctrine on homosexuality will not damage or destroy the relationship between him and his son?

    As a gay man with a parent who steadfastly insists on adhering to and enforcing church philosophy and doctrine, I can assure you it WILL and it DOES destroy the relationship. It makes a functional relationship between the homosexual and the devoutly religious parent impossible. It poisons everything in the relationship. It leaves the homosexual with a choice: destroy yourself or move away from the fire and save yourself.

    The man did the right thing. He treated his gay son in exactly the same way he had already been treating his non-gay offspring. He made a commitment to his fatherly duty. He sent a clear message of compassion and love and self sacrifice to all parents in the church. He stood up for his moral beliefs, he stood by his son. He loved his son. If the church authorities had a problem with it, then it is they who have the problem not him. The fault is not his. He acted in a Christian manner.

  • Kimberlee

    Bob, thank you kindly! We are all brothers and sisters under God! God bless and take care!

    By the way, in 1912 the son of the prophet-founder of the Baha’i Faith, traveled from the Holy Land to North America and, though quite elderly and worn down from years of imprisonment and restriction, went coast to coast to gave talks about the Baha’i Faith. One such talk was given in a Methodist church (now United Church) in Canada. The church’s web site says “He made quite an impression here wearing Middle-Eastern dress and speaking in Persian through an interpreter in the presence of many city dignitaries to a packed and respectful audience.” After outlining our principles, he offered a prayer for the congregation:

    “O my Lord! Thou Who art ever-forgiving! Verily, this assembly hath turned its face toward Thy Kingdom. Verily, they are all of Thy flock, and Thou art the one Shepherd of all. O Thou real Shepherd! Educate and train Thy sheep in Thy green and verdant pastures. Suffer these birds of Thine to build their nests in Thy rose garden. Adorn Thine orchard with these fresh plants and flowers. Refresh these human trees by Thy shower of beneficence and favor. O God! Verily, we are all Thy servants—all Thine—and Thou art the One Lord. We all adore Thee, and Thou art the beneficent Master. O Lord! Render the eyes perceptive that they may witness the lights of Thy Kingdom. Render the ears attentive that they may hear the heavenly summons. Resuscitate the spirits that they may be exhilarated through the breath of the Holy Spirit. O Lord! Verily, we are weak, but Thou art almighty. We are poor, but Thou art rich. Have mercy upon us. Apportion unto us a goodly share of Thy realities, and lead us into the arena of Thine attainments. Thou art the Powerful. Thou art the Able. Thou art the kind Lord.” – Prayer by Abdul-Baha, following talk at St James Methodist Church, Montreal, Canada, 5 Sep 1912

  • Kimberlee

    Neil, thank you SO MUCH for sharing these very personal and very deep feelings and emotions! I so appreciate your taking the time to write them out so clearly and concisely. I understand your support for Rev Ogletree’s decision, and your understanding of its importance both to him and his son. Rev Ogletree has chosen to make a stand through disobedience. I respect his commitment and courage. I am only suggesting that there is another way to work for change rather than open disobedience to church laws, as this has potentially very divisive repercussions for the church community. For example, let’s say the 208 clergymen who signed pledges along with Rev Ogletree that they would disobey church law on same sex marriage (which some 2,800 other clergymen then opposed, calling instead for strict enforcement of the church’s laws) go on to perform marriages. Each time they are asked if they will desist, and like Rev Ogletree, say, “If I’m asked again, I will do it again.” So then they are charged and tried, and “defrocked” (not sure what the correct phrase is in UMC terminology. In other words, one by one, each one is no longer authorized to perform the services of an ordained UMC minister. No church law is changed (at least not in the foreseeable future) but they made their stand for what they believed was right and just, so they feel vindicated. Some will leave to join a church where they can perform same-sex marriages, some may stay and continue the fight from the lay ranks, some may just give up; so what harm, you might ask. Well, what about Christian love, unity and fellowship? Even if people didn’t agree with each other, did they all feel respected and loved during the process by those with differing opinions? And at the end, were they able to accept with radiance the will of the majority, especially if they felt there would be opportunity in future to revisit the issue? I speak as a Baha’i: Our scriptures advocate the preservation of unity within a religious community, even over being in the right (though ideally you are both!). We call the process “consultation.” There needs to be a thorough investigation to get at the facts and truth of the matter, and everyone should speak their thoughts. It takes time; it is not a quick process. If a consensus becomes clear, great. If not, the majority opinion is adopted and then wholeheartedly supported by all (no sour grapes allowed!). If in time, it proves to have been a wrong or poor or unjust decision, the group can then revisit the issue and change direction,TOGETHER; no finger pointing, no blame, no “I told you sos.” It’s an exercise in humility and patience, and takes a little practice, but Baha’is use this method from local to national and international levels, within families, within businesses, etc.

    p.s. I understand Rev Ogletree’s daughter chose to have a same-sex marriage outside the UMC.

  • Kimberlee

    Neil, I didn’t respond to the issue of the breakdown between parent and child because I could really sense the pain in this. What can anyone say? I’m so sorry you are experiencing this. Parental love should be unconditional and supportive.

  • ACPD

    I was raised as a Methodist and don’t remember ever hearing anything about gays ever mentioned. We were too busy trying to figure out how to become better people—having been born sinners.
    As an adult I have read much on this subject and think the scholarly work of John Boswell is authoritative. He went back to the original texts and found that not only were gays part of the early Church, but there is evidence to support the belief that there were “gay marriages” back then, as well.
    Being anti-gay is a contemporary affectation and not one, as Dean Ogletree and others scholars have proved actually was part of authentic Christian teachings….It certainly flies in the face of the Golden Rule….

  • Inigo_Ona

    John 4:4-26

  • Neil Cameron

    Maintaining unity for the sake of unity gives the homosexuals in the congregation no option but to leave. My sexuality is not a consultative process, and it is nothing to do with any religious institution.
    Polite unity with respect and sensitivity is the weapon that is used to drive out the disliked.

  • Kimberlee

    “Polite unity with respect and sensitivity is the weapon that is used to drive out the disliked.”

    Just to correct, that is NOT what we are up to at all! “Dislike” isn’t compatible with seeing the Divine creation in each person. And the discussion on the consultative process has to do with defining church laws, not individual sexuality. God bless!

  • Elsie Gauley Vega

    Yes, ACPD, in my youth, decades ago, I never heard a sermon or teaching against non-heterosexual people. In the neighborhood were two women farmers, about 10 or 12 years older than myself, who came to the farm when it was time for farmers to exchange labor during harvest (in the days before big equipment). They had farmed together since graduating from high school. One of them clerked in a grocery store (as many farm wives did so that the couple could have regular income, since sale of crops and livestock was seasonal). There have been homosexual couples since the beginning of time.
    Regarding church law: Who wants to go back to buying and selling people?!!!!!!
    Once that was a ‘divisive’ practice.
    Re: alcohal–excess and spending all one’s income on it is/was the problem. I believe you will find that everyone, including the mother, in the Wesley family
    drank beer on a regular basis…since at that time in history beer was safer than water.

  • Patty

    I don’t think that God said that Homosexuals are not equal to us. I’m not religious and it is bigiots like you that have taught me that :)

  • dave76

    Assume that includes multiple wives?

  • Jay

    Spirit of Fear – “And the Label of Homophobia
    Homophobic. This label has been liberally applied to many professing Christians due to their unwavering stance on the belief that homosexuality is not God’s design for man. Phobia is defined as an irrational, excessive, and persistent fear of some particular thing or situation. Homophobia then is the irrational hatred or fear of homosexuals or homosexuality…(continue reading full article at)
    http://wp.me/p20Nmh-5

  • Jay

    Spirit of Fear the Antithesis of Love
    http://wp.me/p20Nmh-5

  • Jay

    Spirit of Fear and the Antithesis of Love
    “The Label of Homophobia”
    Homophobic. This label has been liberally applied to many professing Christians due to their unwavering stance on the belief that homosexuality is not God’s design for man. Phobia is defined as an irrational, excessive, and persistent fear of some particular thing or situation. Homophobia then is the irrational hatred or fear of homosexuals or homosexuality…

    continue reading – http://wp.me/p20Nmh-5

  • Ruxpin

    One again, the United Methodist Church is on the wrong side of humanity and the wrong side of God. What happened to the Methodists who stood for emancipation, for women’s suffrage, for equal rights? May God bless Bishop Talbert and Rev. Frank Schaefer! Its annual conferences and district leaders wonder aloud why their church is shrinking and postulate blindly and mindlessly about “modern” music and overhead screens, etc. What they need to realize–and quickly–is they have abandoned and separated themselves from Matthew 28 (the bedrock of John Wesley’s evangelism) and have forgotten the admonitions of Matthew 23. Shame on the United Methodist Church. Where a church separates itself from Christ, that Church is doomed. Repent, UMC. Go and sin no more.

  • Ruxpin

    Terrific piece. Very nice done.

  • Sandi

    So much of Christianity was made up along the way. The Council of Nicaea started the whole fight of the concept of the Trinity. Had Jesus been known as ”holy and God” before this time? I think not. This was all made up then.
    One other mistranslation that has really changed the concept of Christianity (Catholic Church particularly) is on who and what was Mary. When the Bible was translated from the original writings, the word for young woman (referring to Mary, mother of Jesus) was translated to ”virgin”. Hence, all of the stories of her conception, the conception of Jesus, etc.,.

  • Evelyn Stout

    All this discussion and it makes me chuckle as I think of an advertisement the Methodist Church runs over and over again. It talks about how friendly the church is, and how all are accepted and loved. It shows families and singles of all races who belong to this church. Then, there is a definitely lesbian couple that is in the group of those the church accepts. All of this fuss is just for same sex relationships of men? Maybe two women living together is accepted as it is often done between two women with no romantic ties. But, two men living together raises eyebrows. The church cannot have it both ways———-how can they invite gay people and yet denounce their rights to all aspects of the religion? I think it is very two faced.

  • Rivka

    I did check it all out and found the Jewish faith and history is where I belonged. I was raised in the Methodist Church, but it was not just the church I left, but the religion that the church followed–Christianity. I made this choice well over 40 years ago. It all starts with the concept that ”there is no G-d but G-d” and no man (Jesus)can consider himself on the same level as G-d.

  • Chani

    These ”Christians” you speak of are people who cannot accept there are different religions, different beliefs, and different ideas and their way is not the only way. Do not be so critical of others Joshua and other like him.

  • Chani

    Remember, the Scriptures were written by man-as he saw things within his scope of reason and of what he saw. Just because you believe something does not make it the law and others do not have the right to think as they think. If you feel man/man and woman/woman is a sin, so do not do it. But you have no right to call those who do not believe as you do sinners.
    Khalil Gibran is a very favorite poet/philosopher of mine. And he says (which is true) ”There are many doors to God”.

  • Chani

    As you have noticed by now, Kimberlee is a fanatic on this subject. All the postings she has about it is making my head dizzy. Fanatics come on all beliefs and ideas. But, they are still fanatics.

  • Chani

    Very well said!

  • Chani

    Very bigoted comment. Do you know that Thomas Jefferson did not believe in Jesus (other than a man of good will) and therefore he wrote his own New Testament? It never mentioned the name of Jesus as holy, etc.,. I am not sure it even mentioned Jesus. You can find a copy of his New Testament in the library. Jefferson was not a Christian, but a Deist. In fact, so very many of our forefathers were Deists and not Christian. Some did go to church as a social affair, but not in beliefs. To name a few others, Washington, the Adams, Franklin, Hale, and the list goes on and on.

  • Chani

    ” One of the worst things we do is take an English translation and our modern context and try to understand scriptures written in other languages”. So right! My earlier example of the translation about Mary—it should have been translated that she was a ”young woman” and not that she was a ”virgin”. This was a mistranslation that has great misrepresentation in the Catholic Church.

  • Jay

    It is horrible that a church force any parent to deny their participation in their own children’s marriage celebration just shows the extent of the lack of compassion by the Methodist Church on this issue. When there are so many other issues the Methodist church should be united against (poverty, hunger, etc.), it will be this issue that will tear the Methodist Church apart.
    They day will come when a majority of U.S. Members attending the General Conference will seek change to the rule prohibiting Gay Marriage, but will be prevented by a majority world members.
    If U.S. Methodist Churches are also required to follow the Book of Discipline voted upon by ALL members, but non- U.S. Methodist Churches can opt-out due to complications of local customs and beliefs, then this rule has to change. If the majority of American churches believe Gay Marriage should be permitted, then U.S. churches should be allowed this option.
    No pastor should be required to conduct gay marriage as no pastor is required to conduct every marriage before them. No local church should be required to host a gay marriage, but if there is a pastor and/or a church that believes such ceremonies are compatible with their Christian beliefs, then let them celebrate the union of two people in love.

  • Earnest L. Hines

    That’s a ball-faced lie! Period! This world is being forever dumbed-down! Keep believing in people who make up their own rules, as opposed to the Holy Scriptures, and you will burn in hell!

  • Earnest L. Hines

    That’s a ball-faced lie! Period! This world is being forever dumbed-down! Keep believing in people who make up their own rules, as opposed to the Holy Scriptures, and you will burn in hell!

  • Earnest L. Hines

    That’s a ball-faced lie! Period! This world is being forever dumbed-down! Keep believing in people who make up their own rules, as opposed to the Holy Scriptures, and you will burn in hell!

  • Earnest L. Hines

    That’s a ball-faced lie! Period! This world is being forever dumbed-down! Keep believing in people who make up their own rules, as opposed to the Holy Scriptures, and you will burn in hell!

  • Earnest L. Hines

    That’s a ball-faced lie! Period! This world is being forever dumbed-down! Keep believing in people who make up their own rules, as opposed to the Holy Scriptures, and you will burn in hell!

  • Earnest L. Hines

    That’s a ball-faced lie! Period! This world is being forever dumbed-down! Keep believing in people who make up their own rules, as opposed to the Holy Scriptures, and you will burn in hell!

  • Earnest L. Hines

    That’s a ball-faced lie! Period! This world is being forever dumbed-down! Keep believing in people who make up their own rules, as opposed to the Holy Scriptures, and you will burn in hell!

  • Earnest L. Hines

    That’s a ball-faced lie! Period! This world is being forever dumbed-down! Keep believing in people who make up their own rules, as opposed to the Holy Scriptures, and you will burn in hell!

  • Earnest L. Hines

    That’s a ball-faced lie! Period! This world is being forever dumbed-down! Keep believing in people who make up their own rules, as opposed to the Holy Scriptures, and you will burn in hell!

  • Earnest L. Hines

    That’s a ball-faced lie! Period! This world is being forever dumbed-down! Keep believing in people who make up their own rules, as opposed to the Holy Scriptures, and you will burn in hell!

  • Earnest L. Hines

    That’s a ball-faced lie! Period! This world is being forever dumbed-down! Keep believing in people who make up their own rules, as opposed to the Holy Scriptures, and you will burn in hell!

  • Betsey

    People are not born sinners. This is a fallacy instigated by the church to get more control over their people.

  • Betsey

    Oh dear—-another holier than thou Bible thumper….thinks everything is his way or not way.

  • Eva Jean

    This idea of born sinners-original sin-is something I will never understand about Christianity. All babies are born free of sin. This was just a way for the church to keep control over the people thru guilt.

  • RCF

    If liberal-leaning Methodists wish for a church that is truly inclusive, then why stop at just celebrating homosexuality? Why not also equally embrace and accept those who are, by nature or choice, polygamous?

  • RCF

    Does anyone believe that Religion & Ethics Newsweekly is an unbiased show? Consider how this story was reported. Whenever the pastor who performed the gay wedding was interviewed, the reporter was shown on camera face to face with the pastor, and even nodding in agreement with what the pastor was saying. When the other pastor who opposed gay marriage was shown on camera, the reporter was never seen in the shot. To me, this illustrates that Religion & Ethics Newsweekly wishes to distance themselves from those with conservative, traditional viewpoints. Religion & Ethics Newsweekly is anything but an unbiased program. On this, and several other stories they’ve “reported” on, the spin has been decidedly left-leaning. But then again, should we expect any more (less?) from the Public Broadcasting System?