Posted by Christopher Johnson | Wednesday, June 22nd, 2011 | Uncategorized | 11 Comments
Methodist pastors who have increasingly defied a church ban on marrying gays were dealt a setback Wednesday when a colleague was found guilty in a church trial of marrying a lesbian couple in 2009.
A 13-person jury of clergy peers unanimously convicted The Rev. Amy DeLong of Osceola. The jury found the 44-year-old not guilty of a second charge of being a “self-avowed practicing homosexual.” That vote was 12-1.
After the verdicts were announced Wednesday afternoon, church officials began hearing a second round of testimony to help jurors recommend a penalty that could range from suspension to defrocking. At least five DeLong supporters were scheduled to testify.
If they opt for suspension, it’s pretty clear that DeLong will do it again.
[The Rev. Bruce] Robbins, of the Hennepin Avenue United Methodist Church, is one of several Methodist leaders across the country encouraging his colleagues to disobey the church ban on marrying gays. The efforts have gained momentum, as hundreds of pastors from areas including Illinois, Minnesota, New York and New England signed statements in recent weeks asserting their willingness to defy the rule.
And if DeLong does do it again and is eventually defrocked, one supposes that her “church,” probably a pretty liberal one since it employs a self-avowed lesbian, will defy Methodist authorities and keep her around. Whereupon something like a slow-motion Methodist split will begin.
I don’t know what, if any, real estate implications there are with Methodist Church polity but it should be interesting to watch.