March 10, 2014

Complainant in New York Methodist Gay Marriage Case Reacts

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:


[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.

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17 Responses to Complainant in New York Methodist Gay Marriage Case Reacts

  1. Bob Kaylor says:

    While I agree in principle with Randy Paige’s response, his position would be strengthened if his church’s statement of belief reflected stated United Methodist doctrine (I looked it up out of curiosity). The church’s statement of belief on their web site references a belief in biblical inerrancy, which isn’t official UM doctrine as contained in the Articles of Religion. Indeed, nowhere does the doctrinal statements of belief on the church’s website does it reference United Methodist beliefs, the Articles of Religion, or any other official UM doctrine. In the section on baptism, it states that the church both baptizes and “dedicates” infants–the latter not being consistent with UM doctrine and discipline. If we’re going to bust the denomination when it doesn’t follow its doctrine (a critique of which I am in full agreement) then the doctrine of our individual churches should reflect our doctrines as stated in the Discipline. After all, our ordination certificates state that we can retain our orders “so long as this person continues to be a faithful servant of Jesus Christ and adheres to and teaches the Gospel of our Love and the doctrine of the Church.” In order for critique of the UMC’s violation of the Discipline to be valid, we need to be adhering to it ourselves.

    • cleareyedtruthmeister says:

      Based on what you have written here I see no major conflict with UMC Discipline regarding what’s on the church’s website. With respect to the “dedication” ceremony, that is an option which local pastors can provide (I know because that’s what we did with our infant daughter).

      What the Ogletree did in conducting a same-sex “wedding” is an unequivocal disregard of the Discipline (not to mention the Scripture on which it is based). Even if what you state represent conflicts of the Discipline by Paige, I think it’s clear that they are minor and of much less magnitude that the offense of Ogletree.

      In other words, it seems a stretch to fuss at someone for speeding while they are criticizing someone else for vehicular homicide.

    • Jonathan Carlsen says:

      Is our adherence to church law to ruled or limited by what is included or omitted from the church Web site? The Articles of Religion do not constitute the whole of official UMC doctrine. The Confession of Faith (art. iv) describes Scripture as “the true rule and guide for faith and practice.” That’s a virtual declaration of inerrancy. Even more clearly is it expressed in Wesley’s Notes on the New Testament. In John 10:36, where Jesus says, “the scripture cannot be broken,” Wesley says this means “that nothing that is written therein can be censured or rejected.” That’s official UMC doctrine.

  2. Karl Baumgardner says:

    I agree wholeheartedly with Rev. Paige. Schism seems almost inevitable. I live in the Western Jurisdiction and am awaiting the other shoe to drop and our Jurisdiction follow suit with the New York Annual Conference. A life-long United Methodist, I do not know how much longer I can stay in the denomination in its current state of affairs.

  3. Alan Spitz says:

    It was for this very reason as well as many others that forced me to leave the UMC after 25 years as a faithful disciple of Christ.

  4. B. John Masters says:

    You know Karl, I’m a life-long member, and I too am not sure how much longer I can remain in this Church either. Just as we clung to the 2000 years of teaching on the acceptability of slavery, we continue to hold for way to long to discrimination against our LGBT brothers and sisters.

    People like Paige and Jacodsen use the Discipline to clobber those they don’t like, but ignore it in their own ministries, as noted above by Bob Kaylor. Me thinks Rev. Paige might have been more suited to the Southern Baptist pulpit.

    The vows of ordination in the Book Discipline clearly states:
    ¶ 161.II.F ) All persons, regardless of age, gender, marital status, or sexual orientation, are entitled to have their human and civil rights insured and to be protected against violence.
    ¶ 335(c)(4) which notes that people up for ordination are required to “Provide evidence of your willingness to relate yourself in ministry to all persons without regard to race, color, ethnicity, national origin, social status, gender, sexual orientation, age, economic condition, or disability.”

    Bishop McLee saw what has always been a glaring discrepency in the Discipline, and came down on a side that Mark Tooley, John Lomperis, and apparently these two elders don’t come down on. Good for his recognition that the Discipline plays to both sides of this argument.

    • cleareyedtruthmeister says:

      2000 years of teaching that slavery was cool?? I’m not sure what religion you are speaking of. Perhaps you should read a different history book, one that is more into fact than myth.

    • Maria says:

      Mr. Masters,
      Your argument with regard to sanctioning homosexual marriage is flawed, in that you seek to define civil and human rights in terms that are clearly in defiance of the will of God. The Bible is the inerrant Word of God, and I won’t stand by and watch while people defy God’s commandments in order to satisfy their own lusts. God help the leaders of the Methodist Church to stand up against this apostasy. Having said this, Jesus warned us that there would be a “falling away” in the last days. As for me, I will pass on the “weeping and gnashing of teeth” appointed for those who live to please themselves rather than living to please the Almighty God and our Savior, Jesus.

    • RIchard Sprague says:

      Comparing homosexuality / sodomy / lesbianism / cross-dressing / fornication etc., all clearly proscribed by Scripture both in the Old and New Testaments, to slavery is nonsense. Biblical slavery which our Lord was familiar with was a way the poverty stricken could survive, by selling themselves for a specified time. The Jubilee was in the Law to return all families to freedom and to the land of their fathers. The slavery eliminated in our nation after the Civil War and still practiced in much of the world, especially the Moslem world, was never right.
      All sins ( behaviors forbidden by God for our benefit) are clearly proscribed and are a matter of human lust and choice. It is not the “tendency” nor the thought or desire, but the act that is sinful. As in alchoholism or drug addiction it really is a matter of choice to do or not to do. Willful people, proud of their sin, cannot be considered to be followers of Christ and John Wesley said that Methodists were simply Christians, followers of Christ.

  5. Bob Kaylor says:

    I respectfully disagree. Refusing to do infant baptism is a chargeable offense and the Judicial Council made it clear in decision 142 that rewriting the language in our current ¶226 to allow infant dedication was a violation of Article XVII of the Articles of Religion. Infant dedications are thus not an “option” anymore than conducting gay marriages is an option. Either we’re going to uphold our vows or we’re not. I’m not trying to cast aspersions on a colleague, just noting that our outrage at violations of the Discipline has to also turn us toward looking at the ways in which we ourselves are keeping or not keeping the covenant we made at ordination. Otherwise, we are as hypocritical as anyone else.

    • Bill Westbrook says:

      I believe Rev.Kaylor needs to read decision 142 more carefully. The rewrite was declared unconstitutional not because it carried the language “dedicated’ but because it omitted “in Baptism.” There is nothing in that decision that would prevent a dedication of a child if that was the wishes of the parents. I don’t think Rev Paige’s church refuses to baptize infants nor does it force parents to have their infants baptized. That is a choice that is made by the parents in consultation with their pastor.

      • cleareyedtruthmeister says:

        Yes, that is exactly the understanding that our pastor conveyed to us when we dedicated our infant daughter. Not to get into theology too much, but true baptism should be reserved exclusively for those who have made a commitment to Christ (an outward sign of an inward acceptance of grace).

        Moreover, with all due respect to Bob Kaylor, I think he is equating two things of different magnitude. Rev. Ogletree participated in an unequivocal, in-your-face disregard of the Discipline…and, most importantly, the Scripture on which it is based. If this stands then, eventually, anything will.

  6. Zabrina says:

    I believe this is the end of the United Methodist Church in America. It no longer has the will to defend itself, or anything else.

  7. Fred says:

    The EUB’s had infant dedication and save the comments of one rouge EUB memeber of the uniting conference it was going into our book of worship.
    I have a copy of the liturgy and it may be online as well out there.

  8. preacherdb says:

    It seems quite obvious that we have a schism already. Perhaps an honest evaluation demands that it is time for the denomination to have an open, honest and charitable conversation regarding amicable separation. It would seem preferable to the continuous bickering and toxic atmosphere that hurts Our Lord and the UMC. We apparently no longer have the common ground of Scripture of the Discipline any more.

  9. John Cassidy says:

    I am a member of Christ Church. I wasn’t even aware that Randy was a complaint-ant in this action. That’s how humble a servant he is. Of this I am certain: Randy took no pleasure from bringing these charges and it was done only after long prayerful consideration.

    As far as refusing to baptize an infant, how ridiculous! Randy would never refuse to baptize an infant. Now that we’ve dispensed with all that nonsense, let’s get to the heart of the matter.

    I came to Christ Church from the Episcopal church. You are no doubt familiar with that denomination’s standing on homosexuality. But you may not have seen the doors that were opened. How about services to honor long term unmarried couples? (Thou shall not commit adultery Ex 20:14 NIV). How about women of a church posing topless in a calendar (nipples not shown) to raise money? (Clothe yourself with modesty 1 TIM 2:9 NIV).How about holy communion being given to dogs in Connecticut!? (Do not give to dogs that which is sacred MAT 7:6 NIV). How about inviting Hindus and Muslims in Washington D.C. to partake in Holy Communion? People who deny the very deity of Christ. How about attending in pro-choice functions (with church banners) where abortion is given a stamp of approval? (Thou shall not murder MAT 19:18)

    Members of the Episcopal Church have done all of these things. I left that denomination because I was reminded of the old testament verse where it was written that everyone did as they pleased because there was no king (JUDGES 17:6). There was an acceptance in that denomination of Jesus as Savior, but not as King of all Kings.

    Jesus, our King has given us clear instructions in His Word, that we are to seek Holiness (even though we still sin), and He has even given us direction for Church discipline in Matthew 18 15:7. The Methodist Church has failed to follow the very method that Jesus Himself commanded us to follow!

    If we deny His Word, does that not mean we have set ourselves up as kings in His stead? And if so, are we not in rebellion against God as the ancient Israelites often were?

    The door that has been opened is perilous indeed!

  10. Tom says:

    Zabrina’s comment above turns out to have been quite prescient.

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