Tuesday, September 13, 2016

United Methodist pastor keeps job after defying Church rules over same-sex wedding

Dr. Val Rosenquist, Senior Pastor: val@charlottefirst.orgA United Methodist Church (UMC) pastor faced with dismissal after conducting a same-sex wedding is to keep her job after an intervention by her bishop.

UMC rules currently forbid pastors from performing same-sex marriages, with the threat of firing, trial, and the stripping of credentials for clergy who defy the policy.

Rev Val Rosenquist married John Romana and Jim Wimborne on April 23, in the first public same-sex wedding in a United Methodist church. She officiated at the wedding with retired Bishop Melvin Talbert, who called their stance a stand against discrimination and an act of "biblical obedience".

Just days after the wedding, several complaints were filed against Rosenquist, of Charlotte, North Carolina for her public flouting of the denomination's rules.

According to the Charlotte Observer, Bishop Larry Goodpaster met with Rosenquist and the complainants in the hope of reaching a "just resolution". 

The Church defines such as resolution as "one that focuses on repairing any harm to people and communities, achieving real accountability by making things right so far as possible and bringing healing to all parties."

In Rosenquist's situation the Western North Carolina Conference of the UMC said that a "just ruling" had been reached. 

However, the terms of the agreement are sealed until 2018 and neither Rosenquist nor the complainants are allowed to discuss the resolution till then.

The incident comes at a time of increasing tensions in the UMC over issues of sexuality, particularly between North American Methodists, many of whom are liberal in outlook, and conservatives from other countries including some in Africa. 

In July, the UMC consecrated its first openly lesbian bishop, despite the denomination technically forbidding the ordination of "self-avowed practising gay people".

Last week the UMC delayed the implementation of a "Commission on a Way Forward", a panel which would review the Church's position on homosexuality and same-sex marriage.

A special General Conference aimed at deciding a position on the issue could take place in 2018.

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