(RNS) The United Methodist Church’s highest court gathers for its semiannual meeting in Baltimore on Wednesday, as the denomination confronts a growing movement of defiant clergy members opposed to church doctrine on gays and unwilling to back down.
- The Rev. Steve Heiss, of Binghamton, N.Y. Heiss must promise by Thursday (Oct. 24), that he will never again preside at a same-sex wedding or face a church trial that could lead to his loss of clergy credentials. He said he will refuse.
- The Rev. Frank Schaefer of Lebanon, Pa. He will be tried Nov. 18-19 for officiating at the 2007 same-sex wedding of his son.
- The Rev. Gordon Hutchings of Tacoma, Wash. He faces a complaint for presiding at a same-sex marriage in his state.
- The Rev. Sara Thompson Tweedy of New York. She faces a complaint of being a practicing lesbian.
Those are just the rank-and-file clergy. To get a sense of the growing momentum opposed to the 1972 rule that says “the practice of homosexuality is incompatible with Christian teaching,” consider:
Retired United Methodist Bishop Melvin Talbert, on Saturday (Oct. 26), will preside at the wedding of two men in Alabama. (The men legally married in Washington, D.C.) He is the only bishop to publicly commit to such an action.
The Rev. Thomas Ogletree, the former dean of Yale Divinity School and Drew Theological School and one of the authors of a section of the rulebook, known as the Book Discipline. Ogletree is awaiting details about a church trial for presiding at a wedding of his son to another man.