Rev. Dr. Randy Paige, Senior Pastor, Christ Church United Methodist Church in Port Jefferson Station, New York, was one of two clergy who filed charges against Rev. Dr. Thomas Ogletree for violating United Methodist policy against same sex rites. Today New York United Methodist Bishop Martin McLee announced there will be no church trial for Ogletree or others who violate church law. Paige offers this response:
A STATEMENT OF THE COMPLAINANTS
[Rev. Roy E. Jacobsen, Retired, one of the complainants in this case, is away from email and phone and could not be reached this afternoon. I am issuing the following statement because it is important to report the perspective of the complainants. I am confident I have Rev. Jacobsen’s trust in expressing our mutual response. ]
10 March, 2014
As one of the complainants in the case of the Rev. Dr. Thomas Ogletree, I am dismayed by the settlement announced today in averting a trial for Dr. Ogletree’s violation of the Book of Discipline in performing a same-sex ceremony for his son.
The settlement agreed to is not, in our minds, a “just resolution” of our complaint. It makes no acknowledgement of the breaking of our clergy covenant, the clear teaching of Scripture, and our agreed upon way of discipleship expressed in our Book of Discipline. There are no consequences for such violation. It fails to recognize the harm done to our church members, who are seeking to live faithfully by teachings of the church for the last 2,000 years. And it fails to prevent further breaking of our covenant by other clergy in our annual conference.
I am disturbed that this settlement appears to represent a determination on the part of the New York Annual Conference leaders that they will no longer enforce or uphold the Discipline on this matter. While dialog and deep listening are good, they are no substitute for living up to the vows of obedience we took as United Methodist clergy, even when we disagree with the provisions we are asked to obey. Bishop McLee’s commitment to have no more trials for those accused of performing same-sex services means that numerous complaints that are in process will be held in abeyance, and further complaints will be discouraged.
The impact of this settlement today will be that faithful United Methodists who support the church’s teachings will feel ignored and will face their own crisis of conscience, as to whether they can continue to support a church that will not abide by its own rules. In addition, clergy in the New York Annual Conference and other like-minded annual conferences, are now given a green light to disobey the Discipline and perform same-sex services at will, without any consequences. Far from avoiding schism, today’s settlement increases the probability that schism will take place. For all these reasons, I cannot support this settlement.