Following the recent defrocking of Reverend Frank Schaefer and demands for reconsideration of church doctrine by some leaders, the United Methodist Church has charged yet another member of its clergy, Reverend Thomas Ogletree, for officiating at his own son's same-sex wedding. The act violates church law, which does not approve of same-sex marriage. Ogletree, a retired member of the church's New York district and former Dean of Yale's Divinity School, was informed of the charge via mail last week. He refused, like Schaefer before him, to promise never to officiate at a same-sex wedding again, and as such his trial, which will take place on March 10th, is moving forward.
The Associated Press reports:
"It is a shame that the church is choosing to prosecute me for this act of love, which is entirely in keeping with my ordination vows to 'seek peace, justice, and freedom for all people' and with Methodism's historic commitment to inclusive ministry embodied in its slogan 'open hearts, open minds, open doors,'" Ogletree said in a statement…
Bishop Martin McLee, who leads the New York Annual Conference, asked for prayers for all involved and noted church procedures allow for a negotiated settlement even after a trial starts. "It is my hope and prayer that a just resolution can be arrived at and a trial can be avoided," McLee said in a statement.
The Rev. Randall Paige of Christ Church UMC in Port Jefferson Station, N.Y., who led the clergy who filed the complaint, said, "we take no joy" in the charges against Ogletree.
Unlike other congregations, like the Evangelical Lutheran and Episcopal churches, the United Methodist Church has continually refused to alter church law regarding same-sex marriages. In the face of rapidly changing marriage laws throughout the United States, the church may need to rule on its own doctrine sooner rather than later.