July 22, 2015

Wesleyan Discipline Prevails

On July 13th 2015 Rev. Benjamin Hutchison, Pastor of Cassopolis United Methodist Church was removed from his pastorate, following his admission to Rev. John Boley, the Superintendent of Kalamazoo District for the United Methodist Church (UMC), that he was a practicing homosexual.

Rev. Hutchison’s congregation and supporters were not happy, especially considering that Hutchison’s homosexuality was common knowledge. Equally known among supporters was the fact that Hutchison had a gay partner. Neither of these facts had provoked alarm.

Of course, in supporting Hutchison, his allies were defending not only his homosexuality, but his premarital sexual relations.

Why exactly did the UMC crackdown on Rev. Hutchison for being a practicing homosexual, especially when his homosexuality was taken for granted by his congregation?

Rev. Boley asked Hutchison whether or not he had a partner and he responded affirmatively. That made him a “self-avowed practicing homosexual.”

The UMC’s Book of Discipline clearly states,

“The practice of homosexuality is incompatible with Christian teaching. Therefore self-avowed practicing homosexuals are not to be…appointed to serve in The United Methodist Church.” [Emphasis added]

He was therefore disqualified from his position pastoring a United Methodist Church.

The Book of Discipline is so binding that not even Hutchison’s status as African Methodist Itinerant Elder on loan to the UMC is able to save him; he simply cannot be a practicing homosexual and serve as a pastor in the UMC regardless of denomination.

Following his dismissal, Hutchison quickly married his partner, Monty.

His wedding was attended by nearly 30 UMC clergy, one of whom, Rev. Matt Weiler, of Sunnyside UMC in Kalamazoo, openly acknowledged his defiance of the UMC’s Book of Discipline on officiating gay weddings,

“I’m here because I believe in the full inclusion of our LBGTQ community. I’m also here because I believe that what we are doing here today is an act of biblical obedience, even if it is considered disobedient of our Book of Discipline.”

Michigan law limits the number of marriage certificate officiants to just two people. The ministers who ultimately officiated the ceremony have interesting histories. Pastor Ginny Mikita, who was in the midst of undergoing the ordination process at the UMC, got ordained by the Universal Life Church (a website best described as a clergyman’s diploma mill) on July 14 specifically so she could be ready to perform the ceremony on July 18.

This may present a serious problem for Mikita. A senior official with the UMC’s Discipleship Ministries observed that, according to the UMC Discipline, Mikita may have unwittingly removed herself from the UMC candidacy process with her online ordination. With this in mind, any officials on her Board of Ordained Ministry could potentially face complaints against themselves for “disobedience to the order and discipline of The United Methodist Church” if they continue to treat Mikita as a valid United Methodist ordination candidate.

The second minister was Rev. Mike Tupper, who less than one year prior, escaped church trial for officiating his daughter’s same-sex marriage by a just resolution.

In defense of his officiating Hutchison’s wedding, Tupper noted that “There are a couple of (biblical) scriptures that are anti-gay. But the Scripture is clear about being accepting of all people.”

When a United Methodist minister engages in this sort of open disobedience as Tupper’s latest publicity stunt, anyone can write to their bishop to lodge a formal complaint against them.

Regardless whether or not Tupper, Mikita, and Weiler face any penalty for their actions, the Hutchison case demonstrates that enforcement of the Book of Discipline’s edicts remains alive in some corners of the UMC.

UPDATE: According to the Christian Examiner, Rev. Michael Tupper and several other ministers have been charged with a new complaint for their involvement in the homosexual wedding. The Michigan outlet Mlive.com reports that Tupper yielded to the UMC district superintend in Kalamazoo the identities of nine of the roughly fifteen pastors who pronounced Hutchison and Monty “husband and husband.” Tupper insists that he warned the pastors that their actions would violate the Book of Discipline, making them guilty of open defiance. These nine pastors could face disciplinary measures for their rebellious activities.


12 Responses to Wesleyan Discipline Prevails

  1. calduncan says:

    If you can look at that photo without laughing, you are missing an important part of your humanity.

  2. Janju says:

    It is sad we have come to this in the UMC, but I pray the church will hold fast to Scripture and the BOD. As long as they do, I will hold fast to the UMC.

  3. the_enemy_hates_clarity says:

    In a letter dated June 29, 2015, Michigan’s Bishop Kiesey gave guidelines as to what was and was not permissible for a UMC minister at a same sex wedding. She said: “You cannot participate in these ways. Preside over the ceremony, specifically the vows, the exchange of rings, declaration and pronouncement of marriage (or) sign the certificate of marriage.” This letter may be found online in a June 30 UMNS article.

    Less than one month later, it is clearly violated. For Bishop Kiesey to retain credibility, she has to pursue this. Rev. Tupper is a second time offender. The copy of his Just Resolution that I have, which was formerly posted on his blogspot, gives no consequences, but an opportunity for him to further pursue his views.

    Had Bp. Kiesey suspended him the first time, this new ceremony probably would not have happened, and certainly the other 9-15 participants would have been less. It will be interesting to see how this unfolds.

    In Christ,

    The enemy hates clarity

    • Mike Tupper says:

      My friend, I must follow what I believe God is calling me to do and say, regardless of the consequences. Here I stand, so help me God, I can do no other.

      • Skotiad says:

        God called you to marry homosexuals? Maybe you have the God and groin confused.

        As for “regardless of the consequences” – good luck with that. You will discover that there’s a Judge who is not nearly as PC as the current SCOTUS. There is no Scripture saying that God is “accepting of all people” – only unrepentant sinners. Homosexuals don’t even believe in sin.

        People like you are the reason the UM is melting away into nothing, whereas the Christian Methodists in Africa are holding to the truth- and growing. Does it make you happy that pastors serving as patsies for the secular humanists are the main reason for the UM’s decline? Or was the goal, all along, to drive the Christians away so that the UM will be like the Episcopagans, essentially a Sunday morning political club for feminists and deviates?

      • the_enemy_hates_clarity says:

        I don’t mean to argue with you, Pastor Tupper. I am sure you are a great fellow, that you mean well, that you are not a publicity hound, and that if we were in the same neighborhood, we would be friends, BUT, it also is clear that if you are in a voluntary organization, and you don’t think you are able to follow the rules (or even if you think the rules conflict), the honorable thing to do is to withdraw from that organization. That would be acting with integrity, that decision I could respect.

        In Christ,

        The enemy hates clarity

  4. the_enemy_hates_clarity says:

    Given the current debate in the UMC, one would think that a story about a gay pastor being removed from a UMC church in Michigan, and then a few days later getting married in a ceremony performed by 15 UMC pastors, would be big news on the Michigan UMC’s websites. It is on the national UMNS site, and secular media in Michigan and northern Indianna have also published it. However, as of 8AM this morning, there is nothing on either the West Michigan Annual Conference website (where this occurred), or the Detroit Annual Conference website.

    Parenthetically, it should be noted that the complaint last year against Rev. Tupper for performing a same sex wedding also did not make it to either Michigan UM website, even though it, too, was on the national UMNS website.

    One with a conspiratorial bent might think that the powers that be in the Methodist Church in Michigan do not want their flock to know about this.

    In Christ,

    The enemy hates clarity

  5. Skotiad says:

    Sad clergy – publicity sponges, desperately trying to get their names in the news, and they sure won’t do that by growing a church.

  6. DukeIV says:

    When I was 19 I met a United Methodist minister
    who was doing one last semester of field work at the local church where I was a
    member (minister’s name David) Being a young person who did not really
    understand what being gay really meant, I went to David for counseling,
    and while he was counseling me he told me he was gay, and would be
    able to help me with my tendencies.

    I do want to point out I grew up in a rural area and really didn’t
    understand what being gay really meant. I was raised to believe it was the
    worst sin a person could commit against God/nature.

    David was a very informed young man, he was 26 years old and had
    traveled extensively. He had also met someone at another church while attending
    Seminary who was gay, and he and this other person had a sexual relationship.
    David told me the other young person was 15 at the time and the fifteen-year-old
    seemed more mature than me when it came to sexual
    thoughts/discussions.

    While David was working at my church over the course of the semester, he
    and I grew closer and closer. I did not understand the feelings I was having except David
    kept telling me it was ok, I would eventually grow out of them with prayer and discipline.

    Being young and naive I really had no idea I was falling in love with David
    because I had never seriously dated anyone. Falling in love with
    someone was something I was never taught about (being male), and I
    guess my parent’s felt like it was something I’d discover on my own.

    Toward the end of his work with my church he invited me to go on a
    trip with him to DC. He had family in Northern Virginia, and he
    wanted me to have a chance to see DC without chaperones being around (he
    said). I guess I should also point out during his work at my church he lived
    with a family in the church. I had grown up knowing these people my entire life
    and was very close to everyone.

    David and I were supposed to leave for DC the next morning around 8am so
    he suggested I spend the night at their house to make getting ready for the
    trip a little easier. I never thought anything about it, and spent the
    night. He and I stayed up until 1am talking, and the rest of the
    house had gone to bed.

    Time had gotten away from me while we were talking so I failed to ask the
    mother of the house where to get fresh linens for the bed I was going to sleep
    in. I mentioned this to David, and he told me not to worry about it…he said.
    “If you don’t mind sleeping with someone in the bed with you, I’ll just
    let you sleep with me.” I thought what a great idea, I didn’t want to have
    to wake anyone up, and it did seem like the logical thing to
    do.

    Not realizing I was falling in love with David, I didn’t think anything of
    it.

    Once he and I had been in bed for about thirty minutes I was almost asleep, and
    I felt his hand rubbing my back. I thought “how odd, we’re not
    supposed to touch one another so I turned to him and asked “what are you
    doing?”

    He said I am just rubbing your back so you can sleep a little more deeply,
    and I thought how grand. I loved him touching me, but I seriously didn’t
    realize what these thoughts meant. Another 15 minutes or so passed, and I felt
    his hand somewhere else on my body, and I turned to him to ask what he was
    doing.

    He got up in bed looking down at me and started to smile. While he
    was looking at me smiling he said “you are Johnathan and I am
    David in the bible and we’re special.” Well, I thought how grand, I
    didn’t realize I was in love with him, but I sure did like him touching
    me.

    We had sex in the bedroom right next to my best friend’s parent’s bedroom. I
    never went to sleep that night, I seriously lay there awake the
    entire night listening to David snore. The next morning I asked him
    “What did we do last night, you said it was a sin and we should never
    touch one another, it was just something we’d have to live with our entire
    lives.”

    He proceeded to say “you’re Johnathan in the bible and I am David…we’re
    very close just as they were.”

    I thought how wonderful, and then I said “Does this mean it’s not a sin
    for us to have sex?” He said, “No it’s not a sin for you and
    me to have sex, but if you have sex with anyone who isn’t of the church it’s a
    sin.” Well I truly believed him, and we had a
    relationship for the next eight months.

    We went on to DC for a few days, I met his family,
    and we had sex every day. I thought I was the luckiest person in the
    world.

    I would drive to his apartment in Durham, or he’d come and fetch me at my
    school.

    During my childhood. I had a friend named Julie (she was the daughter
    of the family he lived with), and she and I were very close. One day David proceeded
    to tell me he was in love with Julie, and we had to stop having sex. I was
    devastated…the world was caving in on me. He also said he was going to try
    and have Julie’s boyfriend removed. I asked him what he meant removed, he said “You
    know removed, I am going to get rid of him so I can marry Julie.”

    I was torn all apart and didn’t know what to do. I thought my world was going
    to end. I wanted to tell Julie what had happened, but I knew I couldn’t + I
    didn’t understand how he could have sex with me if he were really in love with
    Julie. I asked him and he proceeded to say “I was just using you to see if
    I were really gay, and I’ve gotten it out of my system now.” It
    still made no sense to me, how could he have sex with a man and be in love with
    a woman.

    I asked him this and he said “You are free to do whatever you want to do
    because you are no longer gay.” I had never identified as a gay person
    just as a person who had fallen in love with a man. It still made no sense to
    me, and he said for me to get over it. He said, “Look you little
    fag, I used you and you’re not what I want anymore, now go.”

    You can imagine how I felt, I wanted to kill myself. How could a man of the
    Lord do such a horrible thing to me? What had I done to
    deserve this, and I also believed he was mistaken he really
    did love me. Well, I was very wrong, he was not in love with me,
    and he wanted to get away from me “the fag.”

    I went to a minister on the campus of my school to talk
    with him about what had happened to me because I thought I was totally in the
    wrong. HE was genuinely sorry and did help me quite a bit. The minister
    at my school suggested if I felt strong enough to report him to his superintendent.
    He explained how David had a superintendent to oversee things he did
    in churches, and with the parishioners.

    He explained how David had violated me, by using his position to gain
    my trust, and it was not my fault. I thought it was totally my fault, and I was
    doomed for hell.

    I did turn David into his superintendent, and the superintendent unknowing
    to me was very good friends with David’s grandmother. He wrote me a
    letter accusing me of lying, and to stop spreading such rumors
    about a fine young man.

    The minister who was helping me couldn’t believe this superintendent’s carefree
    attitude toward what might or might not have happened. The campus minister was
    shocked the superintendent didn’t even want to talk with me.

    However, we sent the Bishop a letter with a copy of the letter sent to the superintendent.
    The Bishop did seem to be a little more concerned and did answer my
    letter.

    He asked if I wanted to bring formal charges against David, and I
    said yet. The campus minister explained to me what exactly the Bishop meant by
    charges. Therefore, I sent a document notarized and sealed telling
    the Bishop I charged David…. …. with immorality and practices incompatible with Christian teachings.

    The Bishop contacted David and asked him to come to Nashville for a hearing,
    and he also asked me to be present. I was unable to be present because I just
    didn’t have the money to travel to Nashville. Therefore, I typed a ten-page
    document notarized and sealed explaining exactly what had
    happened. David arrived at the (they called hearing) and started saying
    over and over he had never had sex with me. The Bishop had never told him what
    was in the ten-page document I sent, but he did tell David he had
    said all he needed to say.

    However, this was over twenty years ago, and I was
    never made aware of what if any action they took against David for
    what he’d done to me and the fifteen-year-old at the previous church.

    Although, I do know David is now a minister at a church in Orlando FL, and I am
    wondering if they defrocked/removed him from the church in the middle Tennessee
    conference if he could just go to the FL conference and be hired by another
    church. He is obviously a minister at another church, and I just
    wondered if he can do that, and if so how?

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