PHILADELPHIA (AP) — A complaint has been filed against 36 United Methodist ministers who blessed a same-sex wedding in Philadelphia in defiance of church law.
The pastors blessed the Nov. 9 ceremony at Philadelphia’s Arch Street United Methodist Church to show support for a colleague who faced church discipline for presiding over his gay son’s wedding. The Rev. Frank Schaefer was defrocked following a church trial, but had his ordination reinstated by an appeals panel last month.
Bishop Peggy Johnson of the church’s eastern Pennsylvania conference said in a statement that she is following the church’s disciplinary process.
“We are ... prayerful that a just resolution can be achieved. As United Methodists we are committed to seeking peace and reconciliation as a model for society. May it be so,” Johnson said.
Details of the complaint weren’t available. The Philadelphia Inquirer reported it was filed by about 50 church members, mostly clergy.
Officials at Arch Street United Methodist referred questions to Johnson, whose assistant said Thursday she would have no comment beyond her statement.
The United Methodist Church, the nation’s second-largest Protestant denomination with 12 million members worldwide, accepts gay members but bans “self-avowed practicing homosexuals” from becoming clergy and forbid ministers from performing same-sex marriages. The issue has caused a split within the church.
The clergy taking part in last year’s wedding at Arch Street jointly blessed the union of two men, intoning, “Those whom God has joined together, let no one put asunder.”
The wedding was ceremonial because Pennsylvania’s gay-marriage ban was still on the books. A federal judge overturned the ban in May.