Wednesday, March 24, 2004

Here is a message from my old Methodist Bishop concerning the lesbian Methodist Minister in Oregon who took the further steps of notifying her Bishop she was gay and also getting married while she could.

Concerning the trial of the Rev. Karen Damman: The acquittal of the Reverend Karen Dammann in the Pacific-Northwest Conference has caused a multitude of reactions: anger, disappointment, betrayal, celebration, joy, denial and confusion. I believe it is essential that in the midst of such reactions The United Methodist Church must remain steadfast and faithful to its scriptural and theological grounding. Unfortunately, we continue not to be of one mind in the church as to the meaning of that grounding.

As Bishop of the Indiana Area of The United Methodist Church, I reaffirm my commitment to The Book of Discipline, which is our connectional covenant as United Methodists. Where there continues to be disagreement with our Book of Discipline and doctrine, I commit myself to remain in dialogue with all those who disagree and will endeavor to represent this covenant in a manner that would honor Christ in whose name I give myself in service and ministry.

I call upon the clergy and laity of the Indiana Area to be in prayer for our church, and especially for those who will gather at the General Conference next month in Pittsburgh with the hope that wherever there is brokenness and disunity in the Body of Christ that wholeness and reconciliation can be achieved.

Bishop Woodie W. White, Resident Bishop
Indiana Area, The United Methodist Church
March 24, 2004

So, she was tried and acquited even though the Methodist Book of Discipline says,

"While persons set apart by the church for ordained ministry are subject to all the frailties of the human condition and the pressures of society, they are required to maintain the highest standards of holy living in the world. Since the practice of homosexuality is incompatible with Christian teaching, self-avowed practicing homosexuals are not to be accepted as candidates, ordained as ministers, or appointed to serve in The United Methodist Church."

Note: Every four years the Methodists get together and decide issues like this. Every year they have gotten closer to accepting gay marriage and gay ministers, etc. It is one of the reasons I am now becoming Catholic -- not that they accept homosexuality, but that they don't have a clue and are voting on what their Tradition is instead of relying on it.

Update: Bishop Larry Goodpastor issues the following response:

Dear sisters and brothers,
I begin this message with a confession of my own struggle with what to say and how to say it. I speak to you today, Monday, March 22, 2004, with a heavy heart. What follows is a brief statement in the aftermath of the finding of a church trial in the Pacific Northwest Conference.

I am absolutely astounded by the announcement of a verdict of not guilty in the case of Karen Dammann in Washington. I am deeply disturbed that a group of United Methodist clergy has placed themselves above the law of the church and has clearly ignored specific statements and declarations in The Book of Discipline.

Let me remind all of you that Paragraph 304.3 is very exact and definite:
"Since the practice of homosexuality is incompatible with Christian teaching, self-avowed practicing homosexuals are not to be accepted as candidates, ordained as ministers, or appointed to serve in The United Methodist Church." That is what our United Methodist Church has affirmed, and is the principle by which we are to be guided.

The efforts of the jury to explain away their disregard for the order of The United Methodist Church and their standing over against the decisions of General Conference is frustrating and disappointing. Their public statement places them in direct contradiction of both the letter and the spirit of past General Conferences and The Book of Discipline. I know that there are some within our denomination that disagree with the statements as contained in The Book of Discipline, and would like them changed. However, that does not mean that anyone can set the Discipline aside in favor of their own preferences.

As for me, I will continue to pray for God's guidance. I will also continue to support and uphold The Book of Discipline as I understand its clear direction concerning these matters. I call upon United Methodists across our conference to be fervent in prayer, gracious in conversation, and committed to making a difference for the sake of Jesus Christ and the glory of God.

Bishop Larry M. Goodpaster
Alabama-West Florida Conference

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