From today’s LA Times:
“Scores of United Methodist Church ministers in California are putting their careers on the line in an open revolt against religious edicts that forbid them to conduct weddings for gay and lesbian couples.
The pastors could lose their jobs and clerical credentials in the church, the nation’s second-largest Protestant denomination.
Ministers in Santa Monica, Claremont [editor’s note-Claremont, duh], Walnut Creek and other cities have already performed ceremonies for gays and lesbians or are planning to do so.
In addition, 82 retired pastors in Northern California signed a resolution in June offering to perform such weddings on behalf of ministers who feel they can’t do so themselves.”
UMC Clergy choosing to break church laws is serious business in my opinion, and I’ve heard many differing opinions on when and where and why it should be done from seminary and clergy friends. Clergy risk their pension, insurance, job, and ordination. One of the most articulate stances I’ve heard yet justifying presiding at same-sex unions was the stance of, “I’m their pastor. They’re getting married. It’s my job and calling to be there for that.” (That person wasn’t ordained at the time and is now, but hopefully that hasn’t changed their mind).
Foundry UMC in DC made news in Christian Century a few months back for their announcement that they will be pastorally available to recognize and honor committed same-sex commitments of its church members, but not in a way that violates the UMC’s law prohibiting “ceremonies that celebrate homosexual unions.” When I sent an email to a friend who was on their staff, saying “Well, what exactly are you doing then?” I was told, “It walks like a duck and talks like a duck.” Priceless.
What I like about what’s happening in CA is that they have strengthin numbers. It’s possible, but not likely, to bring charges against a ton of effective clergy (in a part of the country where the church struggles anyway) and spends tons of the church’s money doing so, but there’s too many of them to do that without crippling the conference. And those feisty retired ministers–don’t mess with them!