The following story published in the Winston-Salem Journal is another example of why pastors need to stop trying to be cute, stop trying to appease the homosexual community, and wake up and understand what is at stake, as BCNN1.com stated in a previous article on February 12, 2014.
A gay couple at Green Street United Methodist Church has filed a complaint with their bishop charging that their pastor violated church discipline by refusing to preside at a marriage ceremony for them — despite the denomination’s rules that forbid same-sex marriages.
Green Street members Kenny Barner and Scott Chappell, who have been together for nine years, filed the complaint and spoke during a Wednesday evening press conference at their church. They stood with their pastor, the Rev. Kelly P. Carpenter, and made clear that their beef was with the denomination, not Carpenter.
The complaint was filed with Bishop Larry Goodpaster, who leads the Western North Carolina Conference of the United Methodist Church, of which Green Street is a member.
The two men are charging Carpenter with violating a church discipline that calls on pastors to “be in ministry with all people,” and also are complaining against what they are calling “gender discrimination.” The men said they are married, but couldn’t celebrate their wedding in their church.
“The United Methodist denomination is forcing Pastor Kelly to practice discrimination and to refuse us pastoral care by not celebrating our marriage,” Barner said. He went on to say that he hopes other gay couples throughout the United Methodist Church will file similar complaints.
The Rev. Michael Rich, communications manager for the Western North Carolina Conference of the denomination, said that Goodpaster received the complaint before going to a council of Methodist bishops earlier this month.
“He has initiated a supervisory response,” Rich said. “Because this is a personnel matter, this will have to be done in a confidential manner. Until this process has run its course there will not be a public statement by the bishop.”
Chappell said Wednesday night that he and Barner decided to file the complaint because “change seldom happens unless an agitation happens first.”
The men and Carpenter all acknowledge that the United Methodist Church forbids pastors to perform same-sex marriages, but said they see a contradiction between that church rule and others that speak of ministering to all people.
“It is just as wrong for the church to deny pastoral ministry to people as it is for the state to deny legal rights and recognition for committed couples, gay or straight,” Carpenter said. “If pastors can be charged with violating the discipline by presiding at ceremonies that celebrate commitment and love, then we should also be charged with discrimination and failing to be in ministry with all people.”
The United Methodist Church has been divided in recent years over the issue of homosexuality and same-sex marriage. A United Methodist pastor in Pennsylvania was defrocked in 2013 for performing a same-sex marriage ceremony, and later reinstated.
John Lomperis, who speaks for the traditional Methodist position at the Washington-based Institute on Religion and Democracy, said that although some Methodist ministers have performed same-sex marriages, the great majority even among those who would like to perform same-sex marriages haven’t done so because of the church’s discipline on the issue.
“I expect and hope that Bishop Goodpaster would just dismiss it,” Lomperis said of the complaint. “It points to how underneath our divisions on sexual morality are some very fundamentally contradictory and irreconcilable differences on how we view Christian scripture and the whole of Christian ministry. From where I sit, it seems as if our more liberal friends are treating ministry like a vending machine: Someone puts a dollar in the plate and gets to demand what they want and call that ministry.”
The issue isn’t whether to minister to people who are in same-sex or non-marital sexual relationships, he said. That’s a given.
“If you give people what they ask for, you don’t have to point to a different way of living for people,” he said.
Carpenter said he has no plans at present to defy the church and preside at a same-sex wedding. Changes in the church practice could only come about as a result of a decision by the denomination’s general conference, held every four years and next taking place in 2016.
Goodpaster will follow set procedures for handling the complaint, Rich said.
“As the process continues, if there was anything out of line that the pastor had done it could lead to a trial or to further things,” Rich said, emphasizing that such actions, if they occurred at all, would be “at the farthest end” of the process.
BCNN1.com is encouraging all pastors and all churches to stand up, stand firm, and refuse to back down from what God’s Word says about sin and the abomination of homosexuality. Every pastor and church leader will have to give account to God for how he led his church and whether or not he put man’s opinion over God’s truth.