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United Methodists Falling On Gay Marriage

A reader sends news that the United Methodists will not put the Rev. Thomas Ogletree, who officiated at a church same-sex wedding of his gay son, on canonical trial for violating church rules. More:

So guess what happened this morning instead of the trial of Thomas Ogletree? The UMC bishop overseeing the trial dropped all charges against the pastor. And he didn’t just drop them, either. He turned them into a huge brass bell he used to ring what will likely be remembered as the death knell of the anti-gay policy of the largest mainline Christian denomination in the world.

Right now—literally, as I’m typing this—in the offices of the New York Conference of the United Methodist Church in White Plains, NY, Resident Bishop Martin D. McLee (below) is calling for, and committing to, an absolute end to the censuring of any UMC pastor for performing gay weddings. It is the first time in history that a sitting United Methodist bishop has categorically declared that he will not prosecute pastors for ministering to LGBTQ people.

One of the Methodist pastors who brought the complaint against Pastor Ogletree responds to today’ ruling with dismay. Excerpt:

The impact of this settlement today will be that faithful United Methodists who support the church’s teachings will feel ignored and will face their own crisis of conscience, as to whether they can continue to support a church that will not abide by its own rules. In addition, clergy in the New York Annual Conference and other like-minded annual conferences, are now given a green light to disobey the Discipline and perform same-sex services at will, without any consequences. Far from avoiding schism, today’s settlement increases the probability that schism will take place. For all these reasons, I cannot support this settlement.

Methodist readers on both sides of the gay marriage issue, help me understand this. Will there be a schism? How do you avoid one? Is avoiding one desirable at this point, or should your church break up over irreconcilable differences? Talk to me.

about the author

Rod Dreher is a senior editor at The American Conservative. He has written and edited for the New York Post, The Dallas Morning News, National Review, the South Florida Sun-Sentinel, the Washington Times, and the Baton Rouge Advocate. Rod’s commentary has been published in The Wall Street Journal, Commentary, the Weekly Standard, Beliefnet, and Real Simple, among other publications, and he has appeared on NPR, ABC News, CNN, Fox News, MSNBC, and the BBC. He lives in Baton Rouge, Louisiana, with his wife Julie and their three children. He has also written four books, The Little Way of Ruthie Leming, Crunchy Cons, How Dante Can Save Your Life, and The Benedict Option.

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