Skip to comments.Methodist Bishop Kammerer Invents Church Law, Cans Pastor, Demands Secrecy
Posted on 08/04/2005 6:24:09 AM PDT by mbarker12474
Pastor denies membership to homosexual, placed on leave
July 26, 2005
A UMNS Report By Linda Green*
A United Methodist pastor in Virginia has been placed on involuntary leave of absence for refusing to allow a homosexual to become a member of his congregation.
The Rev. Edward Johnson was placed on a yearlong involuntary leave of absence, effective July 1, by action of the clergy of the denominations Virginia Annual (regional) Conference on June 13. He will receive medical benefits but no salary.
The clergyman, pastor of South Hill (Va.) United Methodist Church for six years, could be reinstated as a United Methodist pastor in good standing if he fulfills recommendations from the conferences board of ordained ministry.
The Rev. William Anthony Tony Layman, who was district superintendent when Johnson was placed on leave, said the pastors unwillingness to allow a homosexual to become a member of the church led to the filing of a complaint against Johnson.
Layman told United Methodist News Service that he worked with Johnson for four months before filing a complaint against him in April for refusing to allow the person membership into the congregation.
For me, this was the last recourse, Layman said. Johnson had two opportunities to receive the person into membership himself or allow the associate pastor to do it. He would do neither.
Johnson refused to obey the district superintendent or the bishop, Layman said. It was this act of insubordination that put him on notice.
Layman said he and other conference officials did all we could do to help (Johnson) see the inconsistency of his stance in his ministry.
Our Social Creed says that we as a church would not ordain homosexuals, but they have the right to be received in membership, Layman said. The church supports homosexuals as part of the congregation and as persons of definite worth.
Johnson has deep beliefs around this issue, Layman said. He is a man of integrity who is living out his conscience.
United Methodist News Service contacted both the office of Bishop Charlene Kammerer, leader of the Virginia Annual Conference, and Johnson, asking for comment. No response had been received as of July 26.
According to the June 13 minutes of the conferences clergy session, Kammerer said all matters in clergy executive session are highly confidential under the Book of Discipline. She urged the clergy members to honor that confidentiality.
Carole Vaughan, director of communications for the Virginia Annual Conference, would only confirm that Johnson had been placed on involuntary leave of absence. Due to confidentiality issues, she would not tell why Johnson was placed on leave. Officials at the South Hill church also would not comment.
Gary Creamer, a member of Johnsons congregation, said the conferences action is unjust and over the top.
The church is not upholding the biblical principles outlined in Leviticus, 2 Timothy and Corinthians about homosexuality and the sins thereof, Creamer said.
I cannot see how you can take Holy Communion and openly practice that lifestyle. The Bible says homosexuality is a sin. Now everybody sins, but we like to think that everybody who is a member of the United Methodist Church is attempting to repent of their sins. Openly practicing homosexuality is not an attempt to repent of sins, in my opinion.
The placement of Johnson on involuntary leave stemmed from him being charged with violating church polity and being unwilling to take direction from his district superintendent and his bishop, according to the minutes of the clergy session. The action was confirmed by a two-thirds vote of those at the clergy session 418-114, with 8 abstentions.
During the clergy session, Kammerer was asked whether it is lawful for a clergyperson to receive into the membership of a local United Methodist church anyone who is able to receive the vow, affirm the vow and promises to fulfill the vow, and who, at the same time, acknowledges and impenitently practices homosexual relations? Kammerer said the bishop and the district superintendent are charged to give guidance, as was done in Johnsons situation, according to the minutes.
Kammerer also was asked if the permissive language in Paragraphs 214 and 225 of the Book of Discipline gave Johnson the right and responsibility to exercise responsible pastoral judgment in determining who may be received into church membership of a local church.
Kammerer ruled negative in this case, the minutes report.
In a July 26 statement, the evangelical Good News organization said the standards of Scripture and the interpretation of those standards within the Book of Discipline regarding homosexual practice are equally applicable to clergy and laity, and that Rev. Johnsons decision finds support in church membership vows.
What was being denied to this individual was membership in the church, not participation in its programs and ministries, said the Rev. Tom Lambrecht, senior pastor of Faith Community United Methodist Church in Greenville, Wis., and chairman of the Good News board of directors.
Good News acknowledges differences of opinion about whether it is appropriate to deny church membership to individuals based on pastoral judgments about their sincerity and the state of their repentance or lack of it. However, we do not believe that the Book of Discipline requires pastors to receive unconditionally everyone who presents himself or herself for church membership.
Johnson may return to an appointment next year if he follows guidelines set by the board of ordained ministry, but Layman declined to discuss what those guidelines are.
The board of ordained ministry is working with him in providing opportunity to return. He does have an opportunity to return to an appointment, he said.
The case will also come before the Judicial Council, the denominations nine-member supreme court, which meets Oct. 26-29 in Houston. The council will review Kammerers decisions on fair process and pastoral authority under Paragraphs 214 and 225 of the Book of Discipline. The court automatically reviews every bishops ruling of law from annual conference sessions.
*Green is a United Methodist News Service news writer based in Nashville, Tenn.
News media contact: Linda Green, (615) 742-5470 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
- membership vs participation - discretion power over membership - who decides membership - power of Bishop, District Superintendent, Clergy - power of laity - secrecy of Va Conference of the UMC - test of profession of faith
"The Bible says homosexuality is a sin. Now everybody sins, but we like to think that everybody who is a member of the United Methodist Church is attempting to repent of their sins."
I agree, he must immediately repent and live a "straight" lifestyle" and if not faced the membership and removed from the membership. Once the door is open the flood begins.
Unfortunately, we already allow open adulterers into membership so barring homosexuals is rather foolish.
Is there a way that we can help this Pastor regain his position?
You hit the nail on the head.
Unfortunately, we already allow open adulterers into membership so barring homosexuals is rather foolish.
I would prefer holding adulterers accountable rather than lowering the bar.
I like this answer. The church is full of sinners but homosexuals openly defy God's word and have no sense of repentance. I would venture to say when I sin, and others, we try to gain forgiveness and stop the sinful behavior.
We had a mini-scandal here in Houston a few years ago when Rice University football coach Ken Hatfield said he would be uncomfortable having homosexuals on the football team. He was deeply religious, and did not want such sinners on his team. However, I seriously doubt that his straight players were living celibate lives (when I was in college, football players usually had entourages of girls around them).
As would I.
Good point. We tend to treat sin as if there is a point system.
What else shall we ban people for.
Working on the Sabbath?
Owning a Graven Image?
Eating Unclean Meat?
Not having Battlements on your roof?
"Open adulterers?" Do you mean they bring their mistresses to church instead of or along with their wives? I guess fornicators and "polyamorous" types are welcome and openly express their non-Christian behaviors as well?
I'm glad I attend a Christian Church where all sinners are actually called to repent and follow Christ instead of one like this where such nonsense is openly embraced.
Apostasy marches on... its so biblical.. i.e. supposed to happen..
Nah. People living together. The Bible describes adultery as "sex outside a marriage" (See the woman at the well).
It does make me sad. Our pastor is hinting about a coup so to speak in the Methodist Church if the liberal faction doesn't straighten up. I can only say I am glad I live in a small, Bible Belt region and our church doesn't contend with these issues yet.
This is the same article reposted. I've no problem with that.
The truth is that the District Superintendent who says that homosexuals are denied ordination but are required to be brought into membership is lying.
The very biblical church rules state that "homosexuality is INCOMPATIBLE with Christian teaching." It also says that homosexuals "MAY" be received into church membership. The intent of the two is to say that REPENTENT, NON-PRACTICING homosexuals are eligible for membership.
We will simply have to address that specific wording at the next General Conference in May of 2008.
What is obvious here is that the bishop intentionally used the associate to undermine the senior pastor. It was the associate who turned the senior pastor in.
Does "Judas" ring a bell?
Homosexual Agenda Ping.
Another article about the Methodist minister placed on involutary leave ("fired") for not allowing a homosexual to become a church member. Keep in mind the man (I assume it was a man) was perfectly welcome to attend church functions; just not become an official member.
Might as well just give up on denominations like these and have home churches like in China.
Freepmail me if you want on/off this pinglist.
Note: A house of worship which institutionalizes sin as being something to assist, glorify, celebrate and practically speaking, mandate, is akin to decorating a dead body with lipstick, earrings, and nail polish. It's still dead.
That is correct, of course, but in modern parlayance, I think "fornicator" would be the more common term.
People who participate in such behavior should be welcome in the church so that they might hear the truth and turn away from sin. Lowering the bar set by Him to accomodate such behavior means the parish is preaching a false gospel.
The pro gay Methodist Bishops have been pushing the gay agenda for 2 decades. Now they are taking out the preachers/pastors who dare to stand up to them.
I say God bless the Reverend Johnson for taking such a courageous stand.
She is laying the groundwork for the Methodist Church to allow ordination of homosexual ministers. "If they 'must' be allowed as members, how can we not allow them to be ministers?"
I think it's line in the sand time for the Methodist Church. And I don't think the choice that is going to be made is the correct one.
This is not the church I was raised in.
The last General Conference, the classical, biblcial Christian position was upheld by 70%, a number that has only improved over the last few decades.
I think the Bishop's purpose was in concert with the homosexual man's purpose. I think it might even have been coordinated through 3d & 4th parties.
They wished to sow discord in that church as a test case for doing it in other churches with theologically conservative leanings.
Is the "Bishop" married? To a man?
It seems to me that both the Superintendent & the Bishop are bound by the same vows all pastors take when they are ordained, as well as the same book of discipline. It seems that this pastor chose to honor and uphold his vow in spite of being told different by his "superiors". If it was the associate pastor who "turned him in", how is his behavior not an act of insubordination as they are claiming Rev. Johnson's is for not extending membership to the homosexual man?
Satan's mission is to divide & conquer. This church was not providing a very united front. Looks like Satan is winning with that congregation. A situation that won't improve while they don't have a senior pastor.
Scripture does say to "turn away from sin". We are all sinners who should have a repentant heart. If we don't turn away, we are slaves to sin. While we can invite a sinner to church to hear the Word, they must also be trying through prayer, etc. to turn away from it. If they don't we need to explain why we (Christians) must dissociate ourselves from them.
The denomination has a very strict rule against the ordination and appointment of practicing homosexuals, so I doubt that she could be married to a woman (overtly, anyway.)
If she's married it would be to a man. But I don't know her marital status.
Married since 1970.
It sounds like the Bishops are just like the judges in this country. It doesn't matter what the people "want", what matters is what the judiciary (or bishops) "want.
Thanks for the info about the General Conference. Maybe there's still hope.
If you read your bible about Pergamum and Thyatira in Revelation 2, then I think you'll get some idea of what the solution might be.
Are openly practicing homosexuals, that is, when they come in with their "spouse," considered sinners, or does one assume that they are living together platonically?
Two men attending a service together would not merit so much as a question. If, however, they made a point of their deviant lifestyle, they would be called to repent and would be ineligible for membership until they did.
How would they repent? Is simply SAYING it enough? Would they have to live apart? Would they have to SAY that they are merely living platonically?
What would be the baseline for membership, I wonder?
Excuse me, but repentance is a basic part of being a Christian. If they don't even know how to do that then they have a lot more to work on than mere appearances.
Is simply SAYING it enough?
That could possible fool some people but it would not fool God.
Would they have to live apart?
We wouldn't be sending a "Church Cop" to investigate, no.
Would they have to SAY that they are merely living platonically?
They certainly could not say that they were in a sexual relationship with someone other than their spouse (of the opposite sex, of course, there is no other sort of spouse).
What would be the baseline for membership, I wonder?
Obeying Scripture and Church teachings and participation in the Sacraments.
Saying they were homosexual and acting as if they need not repent would prohibit being a recognized member of the church.
Sounds about right.
In the end, it's a judgment call.
Would other church members make that judgment?
I'm not needling, really just curious.
It's always pretty much of a judgment call and the Catholic Church rarely makes it on individual members. I am wondering if yours does.
Actually, it would be the priest who had that authority.
It's always pretty much of a judgment call and the Catholic Church rarely makes it on individual members.
I would think that priests in the Roman Catholic Church could refuse Communion to someone for cause. Is that not correct?
Yes, it is but the priest would have to read the sin in the communicant's heart. He wouldn't ask or assume anything. I've never, ever seen that.
In my entire life, I have only heard of ONE refusal of communion and that was in the news this year.
I used to go to Mass where there were a number of halfway house folks. Some were downright nuts. They were never refused communion. I suppose the priest thought that the body and blood of Jesus could only do them good.
WHY do you allow open adulterers into membership? Are you of the same denomination?
Is this a member of the United Methodist Church (denomination) who is labeling the Methodist Church as becoming secular and irrelevant? By observation we would agree. We are here, though, wondering if many of the members of churches within the denomination are of the same opinion.
Yes, God bless him for taking a firm position. I would like to meet him or communicate with him. Does anyone know the best way to do that?
This is a college/seminary trained Methodist pastor, right? He has been ordained, we only assume, by a board or presbytery of Methodist ministers. He has done nothing to be "de-frocked" relative to his ordination. I would recommend that Pastor Johnson take that background and organize an independent Methodist church (that is, an independent local congregation) in which that congregation itself may set the standards for church discipline according to the dictates of its own Bible-guided and Spirit-led conscience.
The difference between ordinary sinners - in most cases - is they don't proselytize and attempt to secure acknowledgement and approval of their lifestyle.
Homosexuality is an especially grave and insidious offense. Look at what it caused in the Catholic Church.
1. When homosexuals go to Mass, they don't proselytize or attempt to secure acknowledgement and approval of their lifestyle. I don't see priests watching their, er, flock, while they are saying Mass, checking if any men are holding hands or displaying affection during Mass.
If those men (or women) are seen on T.V. doing so that doesn't mean that they may automatically be denied communion.
2. Pederast priests, their CRIMES in their parishes and the American Church's handling of those priess and their CRIMES caused the American Catholic Church their problems, not homosexuality perse.
The Catholic Church does about 95% of all the charitable outreach for homosexuals with HIS/AIDS. It ain't the homosexuality or homosexuals that are the "problem" for the Church. The Church made its own problems on that one. THEY allowed the pederasts to become priests and DIDN'T deal with them and their CRIMES when and how they should have.