St. Mark's UMC during a gay "pride" parade in Atlanta.  (Photo credit: wiebkefesch.deviantart.com)

January 17, 2014

Another Liberal Minister Departs UMC Ministry

While attracting virtually no media attention (in stark contrast to the recent defrocking of Frank Schaefer in Eastern Pennsylvania), another liberal minister has also recently been pushed out of the ranks of United Methodist clergy over our church’s biblical standards for sexual self-control.

Philip Thomason recently “retired” from his associate-pastor position at St. Mark’s UMC in Atlanta. The senior pastor, Beth LaRocca-Pitts, recently reported that 90 percent of the congregation’s membership self-identifies as LGBT. St. Mark’s recently violated church law by becoming formally affiliated with the Reconciling Ministries Network.

I contacted the church to try to interview Thomason to confirm details for this story, but did not hear back.

Nevertheless, in a speech/sermon he delivered last November at Hapeville First UMC in Georgia, the former United Methodist pastor shared most of the relevant details (beginning at around the 7:20 mark). He reported that in 2010, he traveled to Provincetown, Massachusetts (a Cape Cod resort town described by its own tourism office as a “gay and lesbian mecca”) to perform a wedding ceremony between two male members of his church. Thomason further reported that he himself had some sort of “marriage” commitment ceremony to his long-term gay partner, Rick, on August 16 in Gaithersburg, Maryland at the home of a friend named Bonnie Benedict. He admitted that he and Rick had been cohabitating for 19 years, and that Rev. LaRocca-Pitts had been aware of this. Finally, he lamented that at some recent point, a formal complaint was filed against him.

In response, Thomason chose to surrender his United Methodist ordination credentials. While this means that, very strictly speaking, Thomason was not technically “defrocked,” the ultimate result of the complaint filed against him was the same as what could have been expected had he insisted on dragging out the process with a church trial.

It is tempting to say that Thomason’s response to the charges against him demonstrate much greater integrity than the response of the recently-defrocked Frank Schafer. Thomason’s response notably lacked Schaefer’s self-serving media self-promotion, Schaefer’s bizarrely pleading “not guilty” to having blessed the same-sex union he openly admits to having blessed, and Schaefer’s insisting on causing as much damage to the wider denomination as possible (not to mention the devastating harm he inflicted on his former congregation). In contrast, when Thomason’s regional church superiors were made aware of his unwillingness to remain in covenant with his fellow United Methodist clergy, he did the most honest thing for him to have done (short of repentance): he resigned from a clergy order to which he was no longer committed, rather than insist on needlessly wasting the church’s time and resources.

However, in explaining his surrendering his credentials, Thomason indicated no concern for the integrity of his own ordination vows or protecting the church from a hurtful and wasteful trial. Rather, the reasons he offered were entirely selfish: the only alternative he saw would hurt his relationship with Rick and cause him to live with oppressive fear. He framed surrendering his credentials as a way to defiantly tell the one filing the complaint, “You don’t have any power over me.”

He repeatedly stressed that while surrendering his credentials was the right path for him to take, that did not mean that others should follow suit. After all, the context for Thomason’s remarks was at a vigil/rally in support of Schaefer’s covenant breaking shortly before the latter’s trial.

As Thomason chose to continue his ordination in the United Methodist Church over the years, he did so knowing full well that UMC ordination was a solemn covenant to God and the church which includes very clear agreements by our clergy to not conduct “[c]eremonies that celebrate homosexual unions” (¶341.6), to not be homosexually active (¶304.3), and to not be sexually active outside of marriage (¶304.2). Yet Mr. Thomason chose to spend years dishonestly claiming to be a part of this covenant while secretly breaking all three of these agreements, only coming clean when a fellow United Methodist brought some long-needed Christian accountability.

Rather than welcome the sort of communal correction of personal sin that was the hallmark of early Methodism, Thomason appeared rather upset about the complaint filed against him and declared to his audience that “we’ve got to be willing to be activist in the United Methodist Church to see that this type of behavior no longer goes on.” He exhorted his fellow liberal United Methodists to promote a greater liberal boldness in the denomination and to work to elect “the right people to General Conference,” since the denomination “needs to be enlightened.”

Divisions Far Deeper than Homosexuality

Mr. Thomason’s speech sadly but helpfully demonstrates many of the ways in which the divisions within United Methodism are far deeper than whether or not we believe homosexual practice is inherently sinful.

His flippant and unrepentant discussion of his living together outside of marriage with his romantic partner for nineteen years may indicate a liberal attitude that simply does not expect homosexually-attracted individuals to be capable of having the same degree of sexual self-control the church expects of “straights.” More likely it is yet another indication of how the “Reconciling” movement within the UMC promotes a sexual ethos of “anything goes” as long as it’s consensual.

The pro-homosexuality activists in the audience seemed to betray their extreme degree of secularization with their mocking laughter of Thomason’s mentioning that some would still consider non-marital romantic cohabitation to be “living in sin.”

Thomason’s willingness to base so much of his time in United Methodist ministry on living a self-serving lie, and the quick readiness of church liberals to celebrate those years of lie-based ministry, raise very fundamental questions about the basic trustworthiness of self-described “progressive” United Methodists.

Thomason also made some rather revealing indications of his own sources of authority. In defending his blessing the same-sex union in Massachusetts, Thomason presented a false dichotomy between ministering to the two men, Scotty and Dale, from his congregation, or following his own covenant vow to uphold policies in the Book of Discipline written by people who “didn’t even know Scotty and Dale.” But Thomason was especially bothered by the UMC Social Principles declaration that homosexual practice was “incompatible with Christian teaching.” He inaccurately quoted that statement as saying that “I am incompatible with Christian teaching,” and argued that this was invalid simply because the writers of it “didn’t know me” and had “no idea about my life.”

Today, one would be hard-pressed to find any intelligent, informed arguments that the Social Principles statement is not deeply grounded in Scripture and church tradition. Yet Mr. Thomason appears to promote a rather chaotic worldview in which any moral teaching of Scripture or church tradition can be invalidated simply on the basis of personally “knowing” an individual who chooses to live outside of it.

But in a sense, I suppose that the Book of Discipline does say that Mr. Thomason is incompatible with Christian teaching. Article VII (“Of Original or Birth Sin”) of the Methodist Articles of Religion declares that since Adam, all of us have suffered from a fundamental corruption of our nature and that man “of his own nature [is] inclined to evil, and that continually.” Liberal United Methodist clergy have departed from biblical Christian faith on far more than sexual morality when they knowingly lie at their ordinations in vowing to “preach and maintain” this doctrine, when their ministries are not consciously framed to recognize the fundamentally depraved nature of humanity, and when they suggest that the church must simply affirm people as they already are instead of lovingly offering the personal transformation uniquely available through Christ.

Thomason declared that the goal of himself and the Reconciling Ministries Network was to bring about the day in which “no one, no one, no one ever has to present their stole or ordination papers back to the United Methodist Church, because you are who you are, made in the image of God.”

Any worldview that argues that church leaders’ being created in God’s image gives them moral infallibility and a lack of any need for firm means of accountability is grounded in something other than the New Testament, and could hardly be more diametrically opposed to the Methodist tradition.

In any case, further such defrockings of unorthodox United Methodist ministers – whether through church trials or through the wayward ministers being convinced to surrender their credentials – are expected in the not-so-distant future.


  • Phil Jamieson

    John,

    Thanks for this. I think it is of grave importance that the larger context of the homosexual controversy be always in the forefront. Issues of scriptural authority, true doctrine and integrity in ministry must never be forgotten. Thanks again.

  • Luke Craymer

    Well said John

  • eMatters

    Another non-Christian wolf leaves. Yea!

  • Ronald Greilich

    For whatever his reasons Thomason did the right thing.
    I do need to add that evangelicals in the Western Jurisdiction have said for years that the real issue is the authority of Scripture.

  • Andrew Orlovsky

    One things that bothers me about even “Conservative” United Methodist Churches is that they seem to place the Book of Discipline on the level of the Bible.

    • John Lomperis

      Thanks for your comment, Andrew. That is an important concern. Of course, any well-functioning church, from the most elaborately organized denomination (like the UMC) too the most fiercely independent non-denominational congregation, needs a fixed covenant of rules. And so it is important to highlight the lack of integrity of folk like Messrs. who chose to give their word to follow certain very specific agreements while so self-servingly lying through their ordination vows – thus demonstrating that their own word means nothing. But in my own writings I try to make a point of noting that the UMC’s good policies are biblically grounded.

  • Paul J. Jaw

    The sad fact is that these are just a tip of the iceberg. How many more U. M. clergy are not living in integrity and discredit the saving grace of Jesus?

  • Paul Hoskins

    In the interest of self-interest, let’s say this anecdote was told to me by a “friend”:
    Most gay couples I know (and there are many) have “open” relationships, which can take different forms – the two seeking out threesomes together; each seeking out partners on his own, either openly or discretely; “monogamous,” but “looking the other way” when the other sleeps around, which is often. I won’t say there is no love in these open arrangements, there may well be, but having met quite a few, the typical couple would not impress you as a married couple but as two bachelors who met in college and just stayed on to split expenses and provide companionship. In fact, the dirty little secret of gay couples is this: after 3 or 4 years the two are NOT having sex with each other, even if they sleep in the same bed every night. The sexual zing for each other goes away really fast (5 years max) and they either split up or stay together and negotiate how they will allow the seeking out of other sex partners. Although most of these encounters are no-strings sex, inevitably some of those encounters end up having strings – i.e., the “married” gay decides he likes his new sex partner and wishes to cohabit with him.

    Several years ago I was traveling through Asheville, NC, and found that a gay couple there had listed themselves in a gay guide as “love to have visitors.” As it turned out, one of them was the pastor of the Metropolitan Community Church in Asheville, and he and his male companion openly engaged in threesomes or tolerated the other having flings on the side. I learned quickly that the two assumed that any man staying over at their home would be having sex with one or both of them. Both were very open – even boastful – that they had had sexual encounters with almost all the men in their church, and that any visitor (especially if he was young and attractive) fell into the “fresh meat” category, with the pastor getting first dibs. In short, here were two gay men who, though claiming to be in a “committed” relationship, behaved no different from any pagan or atheist. It was quite clear that this ordained man did not see his being a pastor – or being a Christian – had anything to do with his sexual behavior. This is my biggest beef with gays who claim to be Christians: they simply don’t grasp the concept of Christian sexual morality, maybe because they have neither seen it modeled nor heard anyone praise monogamy. There is no reason to think that legalizing the marriages will change a thing. Gay men are what they are. For them, sleeping around is cool, whether you are single or “committed.” The same people who will urge the congregations to get out and participate in the local “AIDS Walk” will, whether they admit it or not, engage in the spread of AIDS.

    • Scott Anderson

      Your commentary is shameful. The focus on intimate aspects of homosexual sex and your unsupported suppositions about it detract from the article whether one agrees with it or not. The amount of words alone speaks to a seeming obsession with this topic.

  • The Rev. R. David Reynolds (“Pastor Dave”)

    AMEN, Brother John. I couldn’t agree with you more. This will split our Church yet, and it is a crime and a shame we orthodox, Bible believing, evangelical Christians are the ones that it appears will be forced to leave a Church that is quickly becoming apostate and godless, not at all God fearing, on this issue. The unorthodox liberals who do not hold the LGBT community accountable for their blatant sin should be the ones to leave. God will never bless Churches that are going off into left field on this issue. The LORD continues to richly bless the former Episcopalians who have formed evangelical Anglican congregations after they the Episcopal Church USA consecrated open gay and lesbian bishops. I long to be in a denomination where I no longer feel led to apologize to other brothers and sisters in Christ by having to say something like, “I am a United Methodist, but I am a born again, true disciple of Jesus Christ just as you are.”

  • Cathleen Coots

    Jesus loves us, this I know, for the Bible tells us so.

    • Tom Griffith

      Amen!

  • Trudi Peters

    During a conversation with a retired UMC minister she reminded me that “throughout the ages, the church has allowed the world to form it; the church has not formed the world. We (the UMC) are certainly not alone in our struggle, but how I pray we become a voice to will help
    re-form the world!

  • Marco Bell

    Regarding Paul Hoskins’ reply, I’m not sure his account from a “friend” is first person, or “He said, She said” sort of rumor, but his summary of sexual behavior is NOT the “norm” for Gays or Lesbians.
    I’ve known as many ‘straight’ people that carouse as John reports, and I don’t think the LGBT community is any more, or less sexually prurient.
    It would be a dreadful shame for all people to believe that if they participate in a Pride March, that they would be promoting AIDS!
    Get real!

    • Scott Anderson

      True. Thank you for pointing this out also.

  • Donnie

    The more apostates that leave, the better.

  • Michael Murphy

    I want everyone to know that I became a United Methodist because of the work that Philip Thomason and Saint Mark United Methodist Church were doing, are doing, and continue to do to make sure people like myself and so many others feel the TRUE LOVE that Christ has meant FOR ALL PEOPLE. I am deeply saddened by the slant this article has placed on my church and my family. I stand FIRMLY in support of my local church and the leadership there and I DARE anyone to come threaten the Miracle at 5th and Peachtree.
    Some of you in this feed seem to have forgotten that Christ loves “wolves” such as you as well.

    • Rev. Sara Tate

      Amen, Michael. There is MUCH misrepresentation in this article, poor articulation of the Discipline, and hateful, snide conduct and speech that is beyond the precepts of Christ’s teachings. Lomperis ought to be ashamed.

      • John Lomperis

        Rev. Tate, can you cite a single instance of your strong accusation about there being any “misrepresentation” of facts in my article? Last I checked, bearing false witness, as in such a comment, was also beyond the precepts of Christ’s teachings. :)

        • Lynn Loosier

          I will tell you this John. You do not know Phillip Thomason. I do, and I can tell you he did the work of Christ and still does. I’ve known him for 15 years and while you write vile things about him he is helping “The Outcast”, the people Jesus reached out to. You on the other hand only can sit at a computer and spew accusations about a man you have never met. He has the heart of Christ regardless of who he loves. Jesus spoke out against many things.. Adultery, Divorce,Taking care of the widows,etc. Jesus never spoke of homosexuality. Paul did and there are references of it in the old testament. All the haters should look at CHRIST and how he lived and loved and how he had a disdain for the Pharisee.. That is what I read when I read what your followers say. Phillip loves people.. All people. He loves the poor and downtrodden, the weak and the ones cast out by a lot of the people in churches today.. Phillip never turned anyone away… Mark my words.. When Jesus said I never knew you to the ones who took care of the homeless and hungry and the widows.. he was not speaking of Phillip because Phillip never did it saying look at me, he did it because Christ lives in him and he has to because of that.. It is in him to serve because of Christ and his ultimate sacrifice. If all of your readers and you would spend more time loving and less time casting stones the work of Christ would grow and flourish. Phillip will continue to serve and not be bothered by you and your haters because he has more important things to do…. Serving Christ!

  • Clint

    The resignation of Philip Thomason, my minister, is a GREAT loss to the UMC. His actions and his service to the community are far more Christ-like than almost anyone I have ever met.
    The church needs MORE like him and Frank Schaefer and less like Paul Hoskins (who seems to know and AWFUL lot about the ins and outs of gay sex and relationships) who are doing the devils work by driving people away from Christ by the 1000s if not millions.

  • st marker

    Ask any member of Rev Phillip Thomason’s congregation if he is inconsistent with Christian teaching. Any true Christian who encounters this kind, loving man – who has baptized our children and fed and clothed countless poor – will know that God speaks through him. I pray that all congregations are lucky enough to experience church through the spiritual guidance of a leader like Phillip, and that you all some day realize the errors in your harsh, judgmental words.

  • Raymond

    Mr.Thomason was my pastor , and l will always regard him as my pastor , and will continue to support him

  • Jean Wynn

    It’s my understanding that the issue holding the UMC back from changing the problematic wording in the Discipline, and from coming into alignment with other former “mainline” churches, is the number of people at General Conference from more conservative cultures – in particular, from various countries in Africa. Now this is a marriage – African and US Methodists – which is in trouble! Separation or at least reorganization, is the logical next step.

  • Beth

    Organized religion is really screwing up Christianity. I’m pretty sure Jesus would have hung out with LGBT folks like he did with Mary Magdelane.

    • Josiah

      Yes he hung out with the outcasts but never once did he justify sin…he told all to repent and embrace God’s grace.

      Sometimes we can be so busy justifying our sin we hardly have time to fight it.

  • David

    As a former member of St Mark in Atlanta for many, many years, I can attest that the work done by Rev. Phillip Thomason was incomparable. As outreach minister, he was able to touch and help countless lives both within the congregation, and the marginalized in society – the very ones that Christ calls us to help. Your writings here are a disgrace to the UMC, and a disgrace to the very body of Christ.
    The Reverend Thomas may have chosen to leave due to the UMCs stance that “homosexuality is incompatible with christian teaching”. However, know that I abandoned the UMC because it itself is “incompatible with the doctrine and teaching of Jesus”. What a sad commentary on your denomination.

  • Todd

    As a former member of St Mark in Atlanta for many, many years, I can attest that the work done by Rev. Phillip Thomason was incomparable. As outreach minister, he was able to touch and help countless lives both within the congregation, and the marginalized in society – the very ones that Christ calls us to help. Your writings here are a disgrace to the UMC, and a disgrace to the very body of Christ.
    The Reverend Thomas may have chosen to leave due to the UMCs stance that “homosexuality is incompatible with christian teaching”. However, know that I abandoned the UMC because it itself is “incompatible with the doctrine and teaching of Jesus”. What a sad commentary on your denomination.

  • Ignorance is no blessing.

    The ignorance and arrogance that runs rampant in this article is the perfect answer to this question: why are so many intelligent, thoughtful, compassionate, spiritual people walking away from the Church? John’s arrogance is thinly veiled insecurity (and a healthy dose of self-loathing, I would guess). And it shoves back into the shadows those courageous souls seeking light in the form of a relationship with God. Who are you to sit in judgment? When you can answer that question, get back to us. In the meantime, know that the damage of your words is real, permanent, and the subject of a very, very sad footnote in history. I can only hope you educate yourself more thoroughly on this subject and give some serious thought to choosing love over hate, fellowship over alienation, humility over pride. God bless.

  • Scott Smith

    I’m confused. Reverend Thomason surrendered his credentials after 30+ years ministry is self-serving and your article about a man you admit to never speaking to is not?

    I would say that individuals like you (Mr. Lomperis) who wear the stole and hold credentials do more spiritual harm to individuals who don’t fit your world view or who’s accident of birth has rendered them unfit for full inclusion by the UMC Book of Discipline regardless of what is within the pages of the Bible or brought by the teachings of Christ.

    As one of the black members of St. Mark’s congregation, I also can see where your arguments would have fit right back in the 60’s as well when “Unorthodox United Methodist Ministers” also took a stand against what was right versus the supporting prevailing practice of that day.

    To those commenters who have laid claim to know private inner-workings of gay relationships, I would suggest you leave private what may be private and refrain from projecting on an entire group of people the anecdotal rumors about a select few.

    To the minister who is telling us what “God will never bless,” it is nice to know that you have clear communication that is absent to the rest of Christianity.

    I find you both to be self-serving and to be biased in favor of the conservative factions you represent. These factions have committed spiritual violence against the children of God who have turned to the United Methodist for succor and who are told that we are “apostate and godless.”

  • Julie A. Arms Meeks

    I’m going to attempt to address my issues with this article, from beginning to end. A friend put it well as saying this could have easily been an article appearing in The Onion.

    Great photo. But you were unable to find one on the internet that didn’t come from such an offensive website? deviantart.com? Really? I’m happy to provide you with a personal photo of St. Mark from Pride.

    St. Mark UMC takes great pride in not using an apostrophe. It is not “St. Mark’s” but rather St. Mark. The Church belongs to God, not to us.

    “…sexual self-control”? Why is it that “fidelity in marriage” (¶304.2) is twisted by you into “sexual self-control.” Phillip and Rick were legally married in Maryland. The fact church law has not yet caught up to state law(s) does not imply that Philip has no sexual self-control.

    “Retired” – why the scare quotes? He retired and turned in his credentials. Not sort-of retired but fully, with a well-deserved retirement check for his years of faithful service to God, God’s people and the UMC.

    There was no violation of church law in St. Mark becoming affiliated with RMN.

    Since Phillip has retired, why would you ever contact him at St. Mark for confirmation – he’s retired and no longer with us. The man retired – and turned in his credentials. He was not defrocked nor anywhere close to it. There was no investigation, let alone a church trial and penalty phase, therefore your “ultimate result…” sentence is out of line.

    Phillip speaking of Dale & Scottie’s wedding in P’town. Biblical obedience and pastoral care, as well as friendship and love, are what compelled Phillip to disregard ¶341.6. There was no official complaint made regarding Phillip officiating at this wedding. Maybe you could have done more research outside of a recording of Phillip’s own words and found that another clergy member of another denomination also presided … I guess that wouldn’t bolster your perspective.

    “No longer committed” – wow, big leap there. Phillip’s commitment to God, the UMC, the Order of Elders, the people of St. Mark, and the people of Atlanta in need seeking help at the red doors of St. Mark is unparalleled. Whether you’ve been a Christian as long as you can remember or whether you’ve never known God in your life, Phillip epitomized Jesus’ words to “feed my sheep” and the UMC’s mission of “making disciples Christ for the transformation of the world.” Many came to know Jesus and God through Phillip; many became members of the denomination (and St. Mark) because of him; many rediscovered their faith and the knowledge that God loves them because of Phillip.

    I am so proud to say that Phillip’s warmth and hug in greeting me the first time I came to St. Mark UMC just resonated in my heart and soul. We had an instant connection. It grew in so many ways over the years. He helped me grow in my faith. He encouraged me in my volunteer work with RMN, particularly at our last two General Conferences. I am proud to say I was at Dale & Scottie’s wedding in P’town. I was in worship at St. Mark on Pride in October when Phillip told us he’d turned in his credentials. I was at Hapeville First when he preached the sermon this article is based on. I was at St. Mark when he preached his last sermon on 22 December. And most special, is that I will always share an anniversary with him – Vanessa and I were married in Iowa on the same day he & Rick were married in Maryland.

    What disappoints me most about this piece, written months after Phillip began collecting his retirement check, is that you denigrate his life’s work and his calling by God to ordained ministry in the UMC, to focus instead on small aspects of his life – that he is gay, recently legalized by marriage his 19 year relationship with Rick, and that he performed a legal wedding in Massachusetts in 2010. As with Jimmy Creech, Greg Dell, Karen Damman, Beth Stroud, Frank Schaefer, Tom Ogletree, Mel Talbert, and so many unnamed others, you discount the entirety of their lives in order to focus on the portion that became newsworthy. That is sad.

    • Marco Bell

      Julie, that was a very thoughtful and heartfelt response.
      God bless you!

      • Julie A. Arms Meeks

        Thank you, Marco. I appreciate your thoughts and words.

  • Bill Alston

    St. Mark UMC has a fantastic history: the first church in Atlanta to integrate, very active outreach to the homeless of all faiths, programs for LGBT and others in need. This church serves as a great example to the entire community. Rev. Phillip was at the heart of those programs. This is a great loss to the UMC and the overall community.

  • NowELCA

    Oh come on. The IRD is an irrelevant joke read by those who have already made up their minds: conservatives who want to get fired up from the inflammatory language and liberals who need a blood pressure boost (mostly the latter: notice the comments).

    People are starving, and you’re hilariously obsessed with gays.
    You’re letting Jesus down, guys.

    Phillip is a better pastor than most half-Baptist conservative UMC pastors could ever hope to be. How could you possibly judge him based on his love for his husband without having so much as heard him preach? How shameful.

    You aren’t keeping LGBT pastors out. You’re just making them hide. You will never keep LGBT people out, because God will keep calling us. We will ALWAYS be at your tables and in your pulpits and baptizing your kids. Sorry ’bout it.

    The UMC is sliding towards death or inclusion, and you know it. In the not-too-distant future, LGBT-exclusive Christianity will look like pro-slavery Christianity does today. You were wrong then. You’re wrong now. You used the Bible blindly and irresponsibly then. You’re using it blindly and irresponsibly now.

    History bends towards justice.
    We will win this. You know it. That’s why you’re scared. Fear of change so plainly seeps out of the lines of this article. That’s why I feel pity for you.

  • David

    Looking forward to being out of this UMC mess and hearing the Bible taught each Sunday by a pastor who believes it fully.

  • Bill

    Rev. Thomason ministers to those who were cast aside by their families, the church and the “Lomperises” of the world. He brings many people back to Christ. He gives many hope. And something amazing about St. Mark that you neglect to tell your readers, they throw the best memorial services ever for those who were cast out by their families.

    Lomperis, you and your followers are fools.

  • lorna

    I was saddened by reading this accounting, focusing so narrowly on just one small aspect of Philip’s many years of faithful ministry. It saddens me that a person’s sexual orientation, or whose marriage they may have presided over, appears to wipe out their years of faithful and effective ministry that preceded that knowledge or event, for some people. Pastors may retire, may give up their credentials, may go to trial, may be defrocked, but in the hearts of people whose lives were touched, or were led to Christ, by their years of ministry prior to that, the legacy of their successful ministry will not be forgotten nor will it be tarnished.

  • Rev. Stephen Bredesen

    I first want to say that I am not a perfect example of the Christian life. What I am is a sinner saved by grace who truly wants to be formed in the image of God by His standards. It is evident that the Word of God, The Bible, is ultimately on trial in this and other issues concerning sin, of any kind. My heart is heavy when God’s standards are set aside because we choose to gratify ourselves. I pray for my Church that we stand boldly and lovingly for our present doctrinal standards as they remain true to Biblical truth. My heart goes out to anyone caught in a sinful lifestyle, especially when they refuse to be corrected or have a standard beyond their desires by which they are measured.
    My prayer continues to be that this great people “United Methodists” will stay the course of the wisdom of the man God chose to found it when he stated he was a man of one book and that book was and still is The Bible. I love the children’s song I grew up with “The B-I-B-L-E, yes that’s the book for me, I stand alone on the Word of God, the B-I-B-L-E.” May I truly be able to stand on it’s truths even when it hurts my feelings and stands against my desires.

  • Mike

    I see no alternative to a split. I would like to hear from the Bishops (where are they, anyway?). If they think there is a way to remain together, I wish they would point it out-and with specifics, no “we need more ‘holy conferencing.'” There is a clear division on the issue of the authority of Scripture. Time to face up to it and move on.

    In Christ,

    The enemy hates clarity

  • Marco Bell

    I think a split, or schism is inevitable, and possibly healthy for all concerned.
    I’m not a realtor, or lawyer, so I can’t imagine how the property and such would be divided, but the Holy Spirit will be with both, because there are as many people on both sides of this issue to make it a reality.
    Love is love, regardless of who the partners are. Male, female or transgendered! Scott Smith stated it well in his commentary, as did NowELCA. The right side of History! Halelujah!!

  • Megan W.

    God is the authority here on this homosexual issue. He says in His Word that the practice of homosexuality is a sin. God knows and understands all things. He knows and understands homosexuality better than anyone, because He’s God. And God says in the Old Testament and in the New Testament that homosexuality is sin. If God knows and understands all things, than why can’t we Christians believe and trust that God knows what He is talking about? And where does all sin originate? It originates from Satan who puts sinful thoughts into the minds of humans, like he did with Eve. Once in the mind we must choose to either obey what God says or agree with Satan’s sinful thoughts. Eve chose Satan’s sinful thoughts and then she acted on those thoughts. She sinned against God. She then turned around and put those same sinful thoughts into Adams head. He chose to act on those sinful thoughts as well. They both could have just as easily refused to act on those sinful thoughts, but they did not. Homosexuality is a sin that originates in the mind and can be spread to others, including young impressionable children. Sin is spread like a disease and can infect others. The cure for sin is to repent and turn from it while we still can, before the day of judgement. God does not take sin lightly, and one day He will say, enough is enough, and then the judgement day will be upon us all. We need to humble ourselves before God and repent of all sin, including the practice of homosexuality, before it’s too late.

    • Marco Bell

      Megan W. You are presuming that God even controls those who don’t believe in Him?
      All the statements made to support a Religious faith, and their literature, such as the Bible/Koran/etc…, were constructed (and published) by Man!
      Therefore it is only relevant to those that distinguish themselves as “followers”.
      Homosexuality is simply another part of the human sexual spectrum that apparently irritates those who see it as an abomination to Life. Just like being left-handed, being Gay is not something that requires suppression or correction.
      Once it was considered a sin to be left-handed. Imagine that!?

  • Charlotte

    I am still waiting for those who so oppose allowing members of the LGBTQ community to marry in church to speak out just as strongly against divorce, and especially against remarriage within the church of those who have ignored their original marriage vows and been divorced. Come on people, Jesus specifically forbade divorce and remarriage. How come you aren’t up in arms over those 2 issues?

  • Julie A. Arms Meeks

    Megan W: You said “Homosexuality is a sin that originates in the mind and can be spread to others, including young impressionable children.” Let me say it and repeat it: homosexuality is not a choice, it is not a disease, is not a mental defect or disorder, and is NOT pedophilia. I repeat: homosexuality is not a choice, it is not a disease, is not a mental defect or disorder, and is NOT pedophilia. Anyone who preys on children is a criminal, not a homosexual.

    • Marco Bell

      Thank you Julia A. Arms Meeks!
      The facts are hard for some to fathom, and even more difficult to put into their world view.

  • Roger

    Thomason framed his surrendering of his credentials to the file complainer as: ” You don’t have any power over me.” This quote is quite revealing. Does the power of the Holy Spirit have any power over how he controls his life?

  • Jerry Kabat

    Julie reports the “fact” that homosexuality is not a choice. Where did she find this “fact”? People who suffer other kinds of inappropriate sexual behavior such as pornographers, pedophiles, etc will say the same thing. It is not a choice. Alcoholics will say their drinking is not a choice. However, it too is a lifestyle of sin. We all struggle with our own sins. What is troubling to me and most Methodists is that the pro-gay faction wants to re-define what is clearly spelled out in the Scriptures as a sin. If homosexual behavior isn’t than what is? I suppose each of us should make that determination based on what we feel in our heart. But that leads to our own personal religion…and that leads to idolatry.
    Rev Thomason sounds like a fine man in many ways, but he is guilty of advocating a new religion outside the tenets of the United Methodist Church. He is no different than the minister actively engaged in a heterosexual relationship outside of marriage. Both need to either repent or leave their ministry. Rev Thomason did the right thing by leaving.