Reverend Howard Hanger has hung up his robes and turned in his ordination to the United Methodist Church because the denomination and the state of North Carolina both refuse to recognize same-sex marriages.
Here’s part of what he told his Asheville congregation:
As a United Methodist Minister, I am prohibited from ceremonially blessing the love of any gay couple. So, with a sad heart and after a long talk with my bishop, Deb Kiesey, I have decided that I can no longer operate as a minister under the banner of an institution which so blatantly discriminates against the love of 10-20 percent of the world’s population…
…This is an extremely difficult decision. Both my father and grandfather were Methodist ministers, one of whom left the church over his opposition to war and the other who got into trouble with the church over his pro-civil rights stance.
The choice was clear, however: obey my conscience and my call to follow Jesus (a man who said nothing about homosexuality and everything about love) or obey a policy that clearly and uncompromisingly judges and discriminates against the committed love of God’s children. It’s a no-brainer; but a heavy-hearter. As a minister, my mission is to bless and encourage love wherever I find it and to bring love where it is not. I must continue to do this.
My hope and prayer is that United Methodists and all other denominations may soon realize that love is love; and what our world needs now is love, not discrimination.
Hanger’s decision will not affect his ability to officiate weddings, however. Bravo to the Reverend for taking a courageous stand.