Saturday, May 11, 2013


On Monday, May 6, 2013, a New York Times article reported on the complaint against Dr. Tom Ogletree for performing his son's wedding. What should be reserved as a day of celebration has turned into a charge of disobedience because Dr. Ogletree's son is gay: The United Methodist Church forbids pastors from performing "ceremonies that celebrate homosexual unions."

A "clear issue of simple justice" has become convoluted double-speak for the church, The church cannot call for lgbt equality and justice in the world and give the same group of people second class status in the church. But that is exactly what the church has done. And as lgbt equality is fast becoming the law of the land, the church is growing increasingly out of step with a world that values dignity, diversity, and right action.

As I write this, Delaware has become the 11th state to legalize marriage between same sex couples, and Minnesota is poised to be number 12. Currently, 48% of Americans live in states that offer legal rights/protections for gay and lesbian couples.  As more politicians come out in favor of marriage equality and more than 50% of Americans support this movement, it is clear that the tide has turned in the US, and marriage equality will eventually be the law of the land.

It doesn't take a statistician to predict that this will result in more gay and lesbian United Methodists asking their pastors to officiate at their wedding and that more and more pastors will say "I will".  No church law can stop love. There will be more and more Tom Ogletrees, clergy of glbt children who will turn their back on the church's injustice and without hesitation will officiate at their child's wedding. And there will be more and more United Methodist pastors who will consider it yet one more vocational honor, to bless the union of two committed people, regardless of sexual orientation or gender identity.

The Wedding of Dan & Bill 2004
Bethany UMC San Francisco
The crisis in the church is not that people are breaking the "law". Jesus models to us that laws that cause harm to God's people are to be disregarded.  The crisis is that the church is failing to understand how it has perpetuated harm against God's glbt children. Bullying, physical violence, emotional violence, spiritual violence, murder, and suicide are all related to the church's inability to embrace fully lgbt persons.  As long as The United Methodist Church has "laws" on the books proclaiming lgbt persons "incompatible with Christian teaching" it will continue to have blood on its hands.

The deeper crisis is the church's failure to recognize God in the midst of love. Scripture tells us that God is love. When marriages were legal in San Francisco in 2004, God was EVERYWHERE! I, who have been trained as a United Methodist elder, had never before encountered God so fully as those beautiful weeks when love was celebrated, covenanted, blessed and licensed! The City was brought to a whole new level of joy, as complete strangers stopped to give flowers to newlyweds, as offices shut down to throw wedding showers, as parents dropped everything to fly into SF to be at their children's sides for the most important day of their lives.

If the church can't recognize this as something holy and true, one has to wonder: what in God's name is wrong with the church?


  1. Karen, you have always been a leader in the struggle. I will always be grateful for your care for my family in early 2004.