Skip to comments.Methodist Bishop Kammerer Suspends Clergy for Moral Offense of Refusing Membership to Homosexual
Posted on 07/01/2005 12:13:05 PM PDT by mbarker12474
Local minister placed on involuntary leave
Refusal to admit homosexual as member an issue
By Mike Bollinger
SOUTH HILL - A controversial national issue has made its presence felt in the local area as a South Hill minister has been placed on "involuntary leave of absence" after refusing to admit a homosexual member to his church.
The Rev. Edward Johnson of South Hill United Methodist Church has been placed on a one-year, unpaid leave, according to the Rev. W. Anthony Layman, district superintendent for the Petersburg District of the Virginia Conference of the United Methodist Church.
"The pastor has been placed on an involuntary leave of absence by the board of ordained ministry after a vote in executive session," Layman said Monday.
A congregation member said Monday that Layman along with Bishop Charlene P. Kammerer visited South Hill Methodist Sunday and explained the situation to the congregation.
Layman would make no comment Monday other than to say Johnson has been placed on leave. Associate Pastor Lee Warren also declined to comment further Monday. No church officials would speak on the record about why Johnson was placed on leave.
Gary Creamer, a member of South Hill UMC, said Monday that the sexual preference of the prospective member was the reason for Johnson's being placed on leave. Creamer said he echoed the opinion of many other members concerning Johnson.
"I feel Rev. Johnson was holding to Biblical principle in denying membership to that individual," Creamer said. "I feel extremely sad and grieved. I feel a terrible injustice was done."
Creamer said he has not yet decided whether he will continue to attend the church.
"I haven't made up my mind whether to leave or to stay and be a part of the loyal opposition," he said.
The decision to place Johnson on leave was made, Creamer believes, without taking into account the feelings of the local congregation. Church members were "completely excluded" from the process, he said.
"I just feel like the congregation as a whole was ignored," he said. "I don't think anyone had any idea of the gravity of what was going on."
Creamer said he did not believe the church would react in such a harsh way in response to Johnson's actions.
Reached for comment Monday, Kammerer would not comment on the details of Johnson's leave. To do so, she said, would violate his confidentiality.
She said the United Methodist Church is guided by the Book of Discipline, which is reviewed globally by elected delegates every four years. Any portion of that book may be amended during these reviews, she said.
Over the last 30 years, the United Methodist Church has consistently maintained the prohibition of ordination of gay clergy, Kammerer said. However, that prohibition does not apply to church membership.
"In regard to membership in the United Methodist Church of laypersons, homosexuality has not been prohibited as a reason for not accepting someone," she said.
Kammerer said if Johnson meets terms provided for him while on leave, he would be reinstated as a United Methodist minister in good standing. In all probability, he would be reassigned to another church, she said.
"He would be eligible for reappointment, regardless of where it is," she said.
Layman will meet with the staff-parish committee, the local church personnel committee, this week and begin work on providing an interim pastor for South Hill UMC, Kammerer said.
"He will tell them who that person is and why they are a good match. The committee commented that an interim pastor would be a good request, and we will work toward that," she said.
Clergy matters are not subject to input from local congregations, according to Kammerer. She said they are handled in executive session by the board of ordained ministers, as was done in this case.
"He is accountable to the annual conference as a clergy member. He is not subject to any one local church," she said.
The process has been ongoing for approximately four months, Kammerer said.
"As Rev. Johnson's bishop, I wish he and his family well and pray for healing in the life of the congregation in South Hill," she said.
Creamer said the individual in question had been worshipping at the church for some time and was singing in the choir.
"This person was never discouraged from coming to church. That would be un-Christian. However, actual membership would be another story," he said.
The congregation, Creamer said, found about the decision late last week. The decision was made by a vote taken at the Virginia Annual Conference in Hampton last week, he added.
The Rev. Johnson and the person who sought admission to the church, along with Denny Hardee, the chairman of the church's staff-parish committee, and several other church members were all contacted in connection with this story. All chose not to comment.
The elitist oligarchy at Va Conf UMC headquarters in Richmond refuses to announce or explain the matter, even to laity in churches in Virginia. Local pastors are also silent.
Homosexuality per se is of course at issue, but the primary issue is that of the local pastor's allegedly serious moral transgression of refusing membership to a homosexual. Plus:
-- local control over membership -- local control over their pastor -- bishop power & clergy voting power re character test -- Biblical, Christian stance on homosexuality as a sin (or not) -- what sins (and unrepentance) disqualify persons from acceptance at church? membership in church? -- UMC governing law (the _Discipline_) and what it does or does not say about clergy power over membership, etc.
Mike Barker Lay Member, Trinity UMC King George Va
This is getting ridiculous. Just a few hours ago I was reading that a lesbian couple was suing an inn in VT over a phone discussion of wedding plans in which the innkeepers expressed reluctance, short of refusal.
When does the backlash begin? They are like wild dogs tearing our nation to shreds.
Let him join.
Then make sure every sermon mentions the error of putting out own desires ahead of God's law.
Be specific with examples.
He'll either leave or repent.
But now I guess the adulturers and fornicators know a place where the clergy would be afraid to challenge their behaviors.
Suspended from an un-church? Has Genus (sp) heard of this? A record?
Did someone add them to the Endangered Species Protection Act while I was snoozing? Why are homosexuals so all-fired sacred these days? Somebody tell me.
I do declare, I'm gettin the vapors.
....as long as that person isn't a practicing homosexual or a practicing adulterer ..... and is REPENTANT .... then they should be admited as members.
Active homosexuals and active adulterers should not be admitted as members
I'm a Methodist, and I have to agree with the Church on this one.
What if this were an adulterer or fornicator? Would they be refused membership? My church has them in the congregation.
I recall a sermon by one of our pastors; he was stating that someone once scoffed at attending our church because we were all sinners. The pastor's reply was "Sure we are! Our church is filled with sinners and there is always room for one more!"
We are all sinners. I sure am. I have no right to enter heaven for the sins I have committed, and trust, I have committed some bad ones. If I go to heaven, it is only by the grace of God. God calls us to recognize our sin and repent.
I agree with your suggestion. Either this person will recognize their sinful nature and repent, as God calls them to do, or they will not. I think the pastor was wrong for refusing this person's chance to repent of their sin. If we start refusing sinners to attend church, it will be a lonely and empty building.
Clearly, the persecution of those who adhere to Truth is well underway here in this country.
Which will be the more lonely and empty building?
1. A church that refuses sinners?
2. A church that accepts sinners who declare their sin is not a sin and they must be accepted, celebrated and their unions blessed in Holy matrimony?
But they weren't refusing him attendance, were they?
No, they just denied him membership, which implies acceptance.
So, these adulterers who attend your church, do the proudly proclaim themselves as adulterers and inform you that you must change your attitudes about their behavior or it proves that you are not a loving Christian? Do they attend with their mistresses? Are you certain that comparing them to the open (and often in-your-face) homosexual is a valid comparison considering the disparity in their public behaviors?
I mentioned adulterers in my first post because folks always raise that question in defense of the open homosexuals. Actually, the adulterers and the fornicators are counting on the church's silence in regards to the homosexuals. They know if the church loses its ability to stand against that behavior, how can it stand against any other sexual sin?
God and Satan are both watching these developments. I believe that Satan is pleased by these developments and that God is not.
Good question. I don't know.
I'm struggling with that. We must minister to the sinners, but cannot condone their sins. How can we turn away sinners who come to us? I've committed sins since joining my church. Should I be forced out? I'm pretty sure some of the people in church with me have done the same. And it should come as no surprise to anyone that this happens.
Where I would draw the line is if this person stated their open homosexuality, expressed an intent to continue as a practicing homosexual, and denied that it was a sin. Then I would deny membership. I've seen many new members admitted and I have to confess I kind of zone out when the pastor goes through the oath of membership. But I believe one of the lines is "Do you truly repent of your sins..." or something like that. An expressed intent to continue with homosexual practices is a violation of the oath even as it's being given.
I would still encourage attendance for this person. Can't give up on saving someone.
The main question in this case isn't whether homosexuals should be allowed membership. The question is whether a local clergy who refuses membership to a homosexual should be removed from his job, on the grounds that this refusal is seriously immoral and unChristian.
Homosexuality is by definition a sinful act.If you identify yourself as a homosexual you are saying you are sinning and have not repented.The Church has an obligation not to fellowship with them but to minister to them.
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