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The Methodist Church in Michigan – not the best place for gays

By |2004-12-23T09:00:00-05:00December 23rd, 2004|Uncategorized|

By Dawn Wolfe

In the wake of Rev. Beth Stroud of Philadelphia having her ministerial credentials withdrawn for being a lesbian in a long-term relationship on Dec. 2, what is the likely outcome in Michigan for gay or lesbian Methodist ministers who aren’t remaining celibate? Not necessarily a good one, according to Michigan Bishop Jonathan Keaton.
“The way the Methodist Church operates,” said Keaton, “is probably, in the Stroud case, a complaint was filed. The normal process is always, if a complaint is filed, to investigate.”
Asked how he would proceed were a complaint to be filed against a lesbian or gay minister in his church, Keaton replied, “My issue is always to operate by the Book of Discipline,” which is a book that “orders the entire life of the church,” and which is developed and created by the Methodist legislative body, the General Conference, during meetings that take place every four years.
Though he would not state his own views on allowing openly gay and lesbian ministers to serve, Keaton said, “I really have to follow what the Book of Discipline calls for whenever issues like that arise.”
He added, “When you get elected bishop, it’s like being selected for the Supreme Court – you get asked if you’re going to follow the laws.”
Keaton stressed that, though it is restrictive, “In the Book, in some sense, we respect the rights of all persons.” However, “we also have restrictions on the ordination and celebration of same sex unions, and that sort of thing.”
Bishop Keaton was unaware of any current complaints against gay or lesbian clergy members.
Asked whether the Methodist Church is likely to either relax its rules about openly gay and lesbian ministry, or to recognize and bless the relationships of same-sex couples, the Bishop responded negatively.
“The position of the church has gone more in the conservative direction than anything,” he said.

About the Author:

BTL Staff
Between The Lines has been publishing LGBTQ-related content in Southeast Michigan since the early '90s. This year marks the publication's 27th anniversary.