Skip to comments.(Methodist)Lesbian minister likely facing church trial
Posted on 10/28/2003 9:40:45 PM PST by ahadams2
Lesbian minister likely facing church trial
By PEGGY ANDERSEN, ASSOCIATED PRESS
SEATTLE (AP) - A United Methodist minister who told her bishop that she is a lesbian will likely face a church trial that could mean her removal from the pulpit, but says she prefers that to hiding her sexual orientation. "I take this over one minute in the closet," the Rev. Karen Dammann said Tuesday in a telephone interview from the First United Methodist Church in Ellensburg, about 100 miles of Seattle. The denomination's Book of Discipline bars "self-avowed, practicing homosexuals" from being ordained or serving as pastors. On Monday, the church's highest court - known as the United Methodist Judicial Council - said the book must be upheld.
The council's ruling reverses decisions by two regional investigative panels not to pursue a complaint against Dammann. The council said "it is an egregious error" not to bring charges when church law is being violated, and sent the case back to the regional committees for a new hearing.
Dammann said that she and the congregation she was recently appointed to lead had been treating her assignment as interim, "and it looks pretty likely now that it probably will be."
She said she remains optimistic, though she's aware that a trial could result in her credentials being revoked.
"I don't think it's a given that it will happen, but it could happen," Dammann said. "It's one of the possibilities, certainly, that we've known from the beginning. ... The future is a big question mark."
For now, "I'm still in the game, still in good standing, still serving the church and doing what I love to do," said Dammann, 46.
In February 2001, Dammann wrote to Bishop Elias Galvan, head of the Methodist Pacific Northwest Conference in Seattle, that she was in a "partnered, covenanted, homosexual relationship." She and her partner, Meredith Savage, have a son.
Galvan then filed a complaint, setting in motion the discipline process that has so far stretched over two years.
Savage, the couple's 5-year-old son and the boy's biological father all attended the Judicial Council hearing on her case in San Diego, Dammann said.
Earlier Tuesday, church spokesman Stephen Drachler said any trial would be the first against a homosexual pastor since 1987, when the credentials of the Rev. Rose Mary Denman of New Hampshire were revoked.
No they don't. They have someone else's son.
Scroll down for a section on the current status and history of Damann's situation.
There is some skepticism on the part of all evangelicals in the denomination.
If you noticed, the Judicial Council sent the case back to the very committees in the lady's own region that had refused to rule her in violation of our rules in the first place. To the Judicial Council's credit, at least they recognized she was clearly out of compliance with our rules.
Since there are no controls on our bishops (each is his/her own little kingdom) Bishop Galvan, a radical liberal from the Pacific/Northwest conference will appoint another committee of like-minded people who will this time probably rule that they "can't make up their mind."
This, of course, will be a sign that the system itself is broken in that bishop's are not accountable to anyone. I'll be surprised if it results in the lesbian's removal as a pastor....at least immediately.
We will be forced to add a trial (accountability) for bishops to our rules at our General Conference next May; perhaps we will add a "presiding bishop" who can over-rule; perhaps we will give the Judicial Council the power to DECIDE church law when the local processes have not been effective in following our church law.
All things said, though, this is progress for us. With a higher percentage of delegates to General Conference having orthodox/evangelical roots than ever, we will find positive changes coming out of our May 2004 General Conference.
This case will be a reminder to those delegates that something must be done.
Chaplain (Retired) US Army
Ordained Elder, UMC
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