Foundry UMC pastor Philip Wogaman (left) with President Bill Clinton.

June 7, 2017

Controversial Ex-Pastor of Foundry UMC Surrenders Clergy Credentials as Lesbian Activist Again Denied Ordination

On May 31 the highly controversial Philip Wogaman, former pastor of Foundry United Methodist Church (1992-2002), surrendered his clergy credentials in solidarity with T.C. Morrow, a lesbian member of his former congregation who was not ordained as a Deacon due to the fact that she was a practicing homosexual in violation of church law.

“I do this with a heavy heart, but knowing that Dietrich Bonhoeffer was right about there being a cost of discipleship at every stage in our life as Christians,” Wogaman told the Baltimore-Washington Annual Conference during their clergy session.

Now retired and age 85, he’s publicly opposed United Methodism’s traditional teaching about marriage and sexual ethics for several decades, first as a prominent longtime seminary professor and later as a pastor. Wogaman is approaching his 60th anniversary of being ordained as an Elder in the United Methodist church.

During Bill Clinton’s two terms as President of the United States, the Clinton family regularly attended Foundry United Methodist Church, which is one of 200 reconciling congregations of the United Methodist Church. Wogaman was essential in leading Foundry to becoming a reconciling congregation in 1995, which made Foundry one of the key meeting locations of the religious homosexual community in the Washington, D.C., area.

Former Pastor of Foundry UMC Philip Wogaman (left) with President Bill Clinton (right).

Former Pastor of Foundry UMC Philip Wogaman (left) with President Bill Clinton (right).

Wogaman has long been a controversial figure of Foundry. In 1995, IRD’s President, Mark Tooley, highlighted Wogaman’s liberal leanings that led the 1996 Republican nominee for U.S. President, Bob Dole, and his wife, Elizabeth, to find a new church that, “would more accurately reflect their traditional beliefs.” Tooley commented in the Washington Times regarding the ironic nature of the Republican nominee and his wife attending a church where Rev. Wogaman actively attacked Republican policy.

Later Wogaman counseled and publicly defended President Clinton during the Monica Lewinsky sex scandal that led to Clinton’s impeachment.

Wogaman’s liberal theology also translated into his stances on domestic policy and politics. He was a strong supporter of higher taxes, including a more progressive social security tax in the 1980s. As a staunch critic of Ronald Reagan and a free market economy, Wogaman claimed that, “[socialism] can claim modest but real economic success.”

Once hosting controversial Episcopal Bishop John Shelby Spong at Foundry Church, where Spong characteristically denied biblical miracles, Wogaman also questioned traditional biblical teachings like the virgin birth.

Rather than urging any other members of clergy to quit United Methodist ordination, Wogaman stressed that those concerned clergy members stay put and allow him to be, “[their] representative outside the circle,” in the fight to suspend church discipline regarding practicing homosexual clergy like T.C. Morrow.

The denial of T.C. Morrow’s candidacy for ordination shows the ongoing evangelical direction of global United Methodism, even in a liberal conference.

Last year, the Baltimore-Washington Conference Board of Ordained Ministry (BOOM), the body charged with screening ordination candidates in the region, recommended Morrow for ordination. This came shortly after this board issued a joint statement with the New York Conference Board of Ordained Ministry announcing new policies in their respective regions of publicly welcoming gay ordination candidates.  However, an extraordinary last-minute intervention prevented Ms. Morrow from receiving the required approval of a vote of a super-majority of all clergy in her conference.

This year, Morrow failed to even win the approval of the board of ordained ministry. This was a direct result of recent rulings of the denomination’s supreme court, the Judicial Council. One such ruling challenged the application of this aforementioned LGBTQ-welcoming ordination policy in New York, and resulted in the Judicial Council ruling that such boards are required to ask the necessary questions to fully examine ministry candidates’ compliance with the denomination’s prohibition of clergy engaging in sexual relations outside of monogamous, heterosexual marriage. Another ruling “prohibits the consecration as bishop of a self-avowed practicing homosexual.” Together these rulings now concretely deny individuals such as T.C. Morrow and Karen Oliveto, both lesbian activists, from legitimately serving as bishop or receiving ordination.

IRD’s UM Action Director, John Lomperis, submitted two legal briefs on each of these two cases (those submitted on the bishop case can be read here and here) that may have assisted the Judicial Council in reaching their ultimate decisions.

Wogaman has been one of the most prominent advocates for United Methodism to abandon its traditional teaching that sex is for marriage between man and woman across four decades.  His surrendering his clergy credentials maybe ultimately recalled as the beginning of the end for viable liberal resistance to the increasingly global denomination’s more orthodox direction.


14 Responses to Controversial Ex-Pastor of Foundry UMC Surrenders Clergy Credentials as Lesbian Activist Again Denied Ordination

  1. Diaphone64 says:

    Still don’t understand how there’s even 200-some “reconciling congregations” given the clear ruling in Judicial Council Decision 871. http://www.umc.org/decisions/search-results?search:decision_number==871

    • John Smith says:

      Because there is no enforcement. Olivet is still a Bishop, BOOM’s are declaring they will ignore the ruling and nothing happens. Sound and fury signifying nothing is the best way to sum up the decision.

    • Dawn says:

      There are closer to 800, actually, and more all the time. 😊

  2. John Smith says:

    Notice its always the retired ones giving up credentials? Never someone currently in the pulpit and never are these protests something that affects the protester, which is immediately followed by comparing themselves to someone who has paid a high price.

    • Dawn says:

      Well, there are the several thousand of us who signed letters in support of our LGBTQ colleagues, including performing marriages for gay people and approving their ordinations…the several annual conferences who have taken clear, public action in illegal support…the several hundred gay and transgender clergy who have signed their names, saying clearly that the ARE “self-avowed, practicing homosexuals”…there are the scores of people who have been prosecuted by the church for all of the above…

      • Carol says:

        I am so disgusted with the inane reasoning of so-called-christians implying that the LGOBT and the wahtever ? have been mistreated , unrepresented and persecuted…these individuals have taken God’s holy and righteous law and trampled all over it.
        How do you have the audacity to say you are a believer and then profane the very name of the God you claim to love.

        It’s time that the men ( if there are any such animals alive and believing in this wicked and perverse generations to take back the reins of leadership from this apostate women, who are not speaking for God, and whom God never called into the ministry.

        When the UMC in the summer of 1957 begin to ordain women as Methodist preachers, that was the beginning of the great apostasy that the church at large is experiencing. Defrock these wretched women and pray that they God will replace them with men who like David, who are seeking God with all their hearts, mind, soul and strength, then the church at large will once again become the church of Jesus Christ.

  3. Tem Carpenter says:

    Did he give back his pension too or will he still draw a check from the Church?

  4. MIKE TYLER says:

    We must be careful in voting on the amendments at our local Annual Conferences. Maybe someone will raise the possibility of allowing all those churches that do not want to be obedient to current church law (The Discipline); to be declared separate from the UMC. This is not likely to occur as the current administration doesn’t want to lose the money. I would rather not have the UMC continue to carry the tainted image.

    • Robert says:

      Church law, what about what scripture? A pastor friend once said years ago that issues like this are merely a symptom of the underlying problem. And that is, Christians watering down God’s Word. We are allowing culture changes to dictate what we are doing as Christians. Heb 13:8 – God has not changed.

  5. Darrell Horton says:

    Exactly what Methodist clergy who strongly disagree with the UM Book of Discipline, UNDER WHICH THEY WERE ORDAINED should do. They should have done it long ago. This controversy has been going on in the UMC since the 1970s. It’s time we either force ALL clergy to follow the rules under which they gained their credentials or SPLIT the UMC.
    I T I S T I M E !!!

  6. Naomi Lackey says:

    I find it very sad that they care so little for the depth of their calling, that they can walk away from it just because thy want to ‘support’ a nature that is not given by God, but, is a ‘choice’ of mind. God did not makes mistakes. God does not make mistakes. God KNEW what He wanted & He created the way He wanted it. The rest of it, is all ‘choice’ of mind. ‘Scuse me – I speak as one who has made bad ‘choices of mind’. There is a difference. God cannot be held responsible for our bad choices, He just gave us the freedom –The rest belongs to us.

  7. Skipper Anding says:

    By ‘the cost of discipleship’ Bonheoffer meant the cost of following Christ, not the tragedy of encouraging people to follow the ways of the world.

    • Marian says:

      Thank you, you are so correct. G.K. Chesterton said: “Christianity has not been tried and found wanting; it has been found difficult and not tried.” God and His Word are unchanging. The culturally secular, political activists elite certainly found it too difficult therefore they just attempt to change it to suit their agenda. The Traditionalists are still in the majority but we act like we have been whipped! Will this church ever Stand Up for Jesus Christ and John Wesley’s Quadrilateral : Scripture, Tradition, Experience, and Reason? I have grave and heartsick doubts about that.

  8. Jim says:

    The UMC of today and the UMC of decades ago makes me think of the view my now deceased parents had of the Democrat party. They grew up in the depression and through WWII with FDR as their frame of reference for the party. JFK reassured them this was the part for them. By the time Bill Clinton came along, they were beginning to see it wasn’t quite the same. However, out of loyalty, they stayed true to their party. (However, I believe my father voted for Reagan but he wouldn’t let on 🙂

    In similar ways, people hang on the UMC because it is the “denomination” they grew up in. It was their parents and grandparents too. Tradition and loyalty blinding folks to the truth that essentially, our Lord has removed the lampstand.

    What signs are there that the Ole “MC” ain’t what it used to be? Well, the homosexual issue to be sure. But, more telling, when is the last time you heard a salvation message from a UMC pulpit? How about a message on heaven? Or hell? When is the last time your UMC congregation practiced church discipline for unruly congregants? The talk of social justice and good stewardship of the earth, etc. has replaced the full preaching of the Gospel. Thus, the lamp has been removed.

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