A United Methodist Church pastor from Ohio has been charged with violating the denomination’s rules by marrying someone of the same sex.
The Rev. David Meredith faces a “disobedience” charge for violating the UMC rule against clergy being involved in same-sex relationships.
In a statement posted to his Facebook account on Wednesday, Meredith explained that two of the charges were dismissed by a West Ohio Annual Conference committee.
“These dismissals are coupled with the certification of one charge and a potential church trial: that my marriage to Jim in a United Methodist Church with United Methodist clergy blessing it is ‘disobedience to the order and discipline of the church,'” wrote Meredith.
“There is still much work to do in defense of this charge. More than that there is significant work to do for the Spirit to reform the United Methodist Church by removing all such discriminatory prohibitions and truly celebrating the gifts, calls, leadership, and loves of same-gender loving individuals and couples.”
West Ohio Bishop Gregory V. Palmer sent out a letter on Wednesday, noting that a church trial may be avoided, as talks between the two parties will continue in early November.
“We all know that this is a challenging time for the United Methodist Church particularly on this subject matter. I am more than ever committed to work in every arena available to me to find a ‘more excellent way,'” wrote Bishop Palmer.
“Please pray much for all the parties involved in this process for peace and a way forward that blesses one another, the church and the world.”
According to the UMC’s Book of Discipline, homosexuality is “incompatible with Christian teaching,” with noncelibate homosexuals being banned from ordination.
Over the past several years, the UMC has experienced much debate over the denomination’s position against homosexuality and gay marriage.
This led to the 2016 UMC General Conference voting to create a Commission on a Way Forward to discern the official position of the denomination on LGBT issues.
The senior pastor of Clifton United Methodist Church in Cincinnati, Meredith married his partner of nearly 29 years, Jim Schlachter, in May of last year.
“A church-trial conviction can result in clergy losing their credentials or lesser penalties,” explained United Methodist News Service in an article published Oct. 18.
“However, the Book of Discipline, the denomination’s governing document, also calls church trials ‘an expedient of last resort’ and keeps the door open for ‘a just resolution’ through much of the complaint process.”
The charge against Meredith comes as the Way Forward Commission is scheduled to release a report on possible solutions to the divisive debate in November.
SOURCE: The Christian Post – Michael Gryboski