Last month the Rev. Frank Schaefer, a United Methodist minister, made headlines when the church defrocked him for the "offense" of officiating at his son's wedding -- because his son was marrying another man. Now, two more Methodist pastors are stepping out in favor of marriage equality and repudiating their church's anti-LGBT beliefs.
The 80-year-old Rev. Dr. Thomas W. Ogletree (right), a renowned theologian and former dean of the Yale Divinity School, was formally charged last week by the United Methodist Church for officiating at the 2012 wedding of his son, Thomas, to his husband Nicholas.
According to the Associated Press, Ogletree said he could not refuse his son's request to preside at his wedding, and released a statement expressing sorrow at the church's decision to move against him:
"It is a shame that the church is choosing to prosecute me for this act of love, which is entirely in keeping with my ordination vows to 'seek peace, justice, and freedom for all people' and with Methodism's historic commitment to inclusive ministry embodied in its slogan 'open hearts, open minds, open doors.'"
Rev. Ogletree's trial will be held on March 10 at First United Methodist Church in Stamford, Connecticut.
Equally outspoken is the Rev. Bill McElvaney (left), a retired pastor who led the Northaven United Methodist Church in Dallas for 40 years. On Sunday he announced that he will defy the church's official rules and perform same-sex weddings. WFAA-TV reports:
Despite well-publicized cases of Methodist ministers being punished for performing gay marriages, McElvaney says he's willing to risk it for equality. "I think we need to take this position," he said. "It is long overdue in the United Methodist Church."
...The Methodist Church's official rules say homosexuality is incompatible with Christian teaching, but McElvaney says his views are based on the more inclusive teachings of Jesus that never once singled out homosexuality. He said supporting gay marriage is both a biblical and a moral imperative.
"This is a justice matter, but it's not just an issue," McElvaney said. "It's about people; it's about people being loved and accepted, and about the church being what it's called to be."
Under the rules set out in the United Methodist Book of Discipline, McElvaney could lose his pension and his credentials if he officiates at same-sex marriages. But to him, it's worth the risk. "I'm too old to be worried about things like that," he said.
Watch WFAA-TV's report on Rev. McElvaney, after the jump.