Debates on Homosexual Ordination Continue in Mainline Churches

( [email protected] ) Apr 05, 2004 03:25 PM EDT

On April 5, ‘Good News’- the group that represents evangelicals in the United Methodist Church, called upon the denomination’s Judicial Council to review the controversial church trial and verdict that acquitted the openly lesbian pastor Rev. Karen Dammann last month.

Dammann’s trial, which garnered much scorn from Christians from several different denominations, in effect nullified the church’s standing position against the ordination of “self-avowed, practicing homosexuals.” The jury of 13 pastors acknowledged that Dammann was indeed a “self-avowed practicing homosexual” but somehow found that she was not guilty of breaking church laws that strictly prohibit the ordination of “self-avowed, practicing homosexuals.” Several bishops of the UMC also released statements expressing their remorse, and the council of bishops released a statement stating that the church’s stance on such ordination still stands.

The ‘Good News’ group also called to “close loopholes” in the judicial proceedings, so as to prevent such flagrant disregard of the UMC’s laws from reoccurring.

Meanwhile, in the Presbyterian Church USA – another mainline denomination fighting to maintain purity in the church in terms of homosexuality, a conservative pastor commended an attorney for successfully filing a disciplinary charge against an openly homosexual minister in California.

Pastor Parker T. Williamson, head of the Presbyterian Lay Committee, said he is glad that attorney Paul Rolf Jenson filed suit against Berkeley minister Ann Petker, who not only ‘married’ her lesbian partner, but also conducted a ‘marriage’ service for another lesbian couple.

To date, Jenson has filed more than 20 cases against Presbyterian ministers and elders, charging them with violating their ordination vows by ordaining or marrying homosexuals. The Petker case is the only one that was taken to trial.

Williamson, on an April 4 statement, said he is glad Jenson has taken action to protect the denomination’s Book of Order – the law of the PCUSA.

"The constitution is clear, and secondly, the offenses are clear, because these persons whom Mr. Jenson has accused are persons who have flat out admitted, 'Look I'm doing this,'" Williamson said. "There's no question about the facts here."

Williamson, who also said it is unfortunate that the leadership of the PCUSA refuses to enforce church laws prohibiting homosexual unions and ordinations, said he anticipates the liberals will challenge traditional marriage at PCUSA’s General Assembly in June.

"The strategy of the denomination's leadership appears to be, let's just don't enforce these standards until we can finally get them out of the constitution," he says. "So there will be an attempt to get them out of the constitution again this year in Richmond."

The UMC will most likely debate the topic during their quadrennial conference, scheduled for this April, as well.