Methodist Minister in Virginia Suspended
An Agape Press article this week reports that a Methodist minister in South Hill, Virginia, has been suspended by his bishop for refusing to allow a self-avowed, practicing homosexual to become a member of his church.
According to the article: . . .
Bishop Charlene Kammerer of the United Methodist Church (UMC) Virginia Annual Conference intervened in the case and declared that Pastor Edward Johnson was obligated to accept a homosexual man as a member of South Hill Methodist Church. After Johnson declined, Kammerer placed him on an involuntary leave of absence until he complies with her request.
Mark Tooley, director of the United Methodist Action Committee for the Institute on Religion and Democracy, says the suspension is disturbing on several levels.
"Most obviously she was compromising the ability of local clergy to make their own decisions as to whether or not someone is prepared to join the church," Tooley asserts. "And United Methodist teachings do say that when you join the church, you are expected to uphold the beliefs of the church and to show repentance in your life."
. . . According to Tooley, the homosexual man involved is proud and unrepentant of his sinful lifestyle, and seemingly wants to make himself a test case against the church's teachings. That being the case, the IRD spokesman says Pastor Johnson was justified in denying the man membership.
In an article from the South Hill Enterprise, church member Gary Creamer said, "I feel Rev. Johnson was holding to Biblical principle in denying membership to that individual. I feel extremely sad and grieved. I feel a terrible injustice was done."
Creamer told the local paper that church members were never consulted in the matter: "I just feel like the congregation as a whole was ignored. I don't think anyone had any idea of the gravity of what was going on."
The Agape Press article also points out that Bishop Kammerer chairs a committee that oversees the denomination's Lake Junaluska conference and retreat facility in North Carolina. According to the IRD's Mark Tooley, Lake Junaluska will be the site of a pro-homosexual rally over the Labor Day weekend organized by a Methodist group known as Reconciling Congregations. Tooley says this group is committed to overturning the Methodist Church's teachings on marriage and sexual ethics.