Methodists refer gay pastors case to Judicial Council

Posted: Friday, June 29, 2001

TACOMA, Wash. (AP) -- United Methodists in the Pacific Northwest have asked the denomination's Judicial Council to rule on what they say are two contradictory passages in church law on appointing gay pastors.

The United Methodist Book of Discipline states that any ordained elder in good standing must be appointed pastor, but also forbids the appointment of ''self-avowed practicing homosexuals.''

The question was presented to the council, which decides church law, after Bishop Elias Galvan suspended a gay and a lesbian pastor June 17 when they each revealed their sexual orientation.

The Rev. Mark Williams and the Rev. Karen Dammann, both of Seattle's Woodland Park United Methodist Church, will no longer be allowed to have pastoral appointments, pending possible review of their cases.

The suspensions were handed down on the final day of an annual meeting of Pacific Northwest Methodist ministers representing 280 churches.

At the church's General Conference last year, United Methodist leaders banned same-sex marriages and the ordination of gay clergy.

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