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Methodist Bishop Drops Clergy Trials for Same-Sex Ceremonies

Contact: Jeff Walton, Institute on Religion and Democracy, 202-682-4131, jwalton@TheIRD.org


WASHINGTON, March 10, 2014 /Christian Newswire/ -- retired United Methodist minister and past dean of Yale Divinity School will face no punishment for conducting a 2012 same-sex wedding in violation of the policies of the United Methodist Church (UMC).


The Rev. Dr. Thomas W. Ogletree's refusal to commit to following church policies in the future led to a formal complaint filed against him within the denomination's conference for the New York City area.


Ogletree and New York Bishop Martin McLee announced a settlement at a press conference today. Rather than Ogletree facing penalties, McLee will convene a public forum to give Ogletree further opportunity to promote his vision for the church. When asked at the press conference if he would do another same-gender wedding, Ogletree replied, "Sure!"


McLee further announced that he would cease all trials for New York-area UMC clergy who perform same-sex rites. In the press conference, the Rev. Scott Campbell, who served as Ogletree's counsel, essentially admitted that this constituted an open invitation for area clergy to perform same-sex rites.


The UMC has over 12.5 million members globally, 7.3 million in the U.S. and about 5 million in Africa, where the church is gaining about 200,000 annually while the U.S. church loses almost 100,00 annually. Liberal U.S. church activists, unable to win legislatively at the governing General Conference, have been waging a disobedience campaign against the church's marriage teaching.


IRD's United Methodist Action Director John Lomperis commented:


"No one today seriously argues that sex outside of man-woman marriage is consistent with the historic, core doctrinal standards United Methodist clergy vow at their ordinations to uphold. But a vocal minority now bizarrely brag about not keeping their word.


"By refusing to fulfill his basic responsibilities as bishop to uphold our standards, Bishop McLee is demonstrating a profound lack of integrity, breaking his own word to God and the church, and is further undermining trust in bishops throughout our denomination.


"Bishop McLee has effectively declared that he will run his conference as if it is independent from the rest of our global denomination.


"Bishop McLee has ensured a prolonging and an intensification of our denomination's internal conflicts. No wonder his region is losing members so rapidly.


"Despite their professed concern for church unity, this minority faction is determined to lead 'United' Methodists down the same liberalizing road that has split other oldline Protestant denominations."