NY state pastor among Methodists defying church law

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Rev. Steve Heiss, pastor at Tabernacle United Methodist Church in Binghamton, N.Y., officiates at the July 2, 2002 commitment ceremony of his daughter, Nancy Heiss (blue dress) and Kim Willow (pink and white dress) in a field in Norwich, N.Y. Photo courtesy Steve Heiss

Rev. Steve Heiss, pastor at Tabernacle United Methodist Church in Binghamton, N.Y., officiates at the July 2, 2002 commitment ceremony of his daughter, Nancy Heiss (blue dress) and Kim Willow (pink and white dress) in a field in Norwich, N.Y. Photo courtesy Steve Heiss

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(RNS) At least three other clergy face church complaints for presiding at same-sex marriages, and at least one pastor faces a complaint of being a practicing lesbian. All could potentially lose their clergy credentials.

  • Fank

    How sad to see so called men of God defying Gods will and created order.

  • Holly Boardman

    I will be interested to see whether Bishop Webb will send this case to trial. The North East Jurisdiction and the Western Jurisdiction have voted to ignore the Book of Discipline on matters relating to homosexuality. I have heard of more and more examples of open defiance of United Methodist clergy regarding this issue.

    Over Labor Day weekend, at a gathering of the Reconciling Ministries Network, retired Bishop Melvin Talbert conducted a ceremony celebrating the marriage of same-sex couples. In his sermon, Bishop Talbert urged United Methodist clergy and bishops to ignore what he termed the “evil” and “unjust” laws of the Book of Discipline. Here is a link to the video of the service http://youtu.be/BUdoPmC3JuM To my knowledge, no one has reprimanded Bishop Talbert or filed charges against him. (It would probably be rather pointless to do so since he is retired, AND a member of the Western Jurisdiction). However, I am disturbed by the silence of our Council of Bishops.

    It seems to me that The United Methodist Church is no longer united.

    Rev. Andy Oliver seems to think that this disobedient faction of the church is growing. I disagree with him. The United Methodist Church will probably NOT alter it’s law since there are more voting representatives from the South than the West and the North East who will determine the outcome. In addition, The United Methodist Church is now a global church. By the time the next General Conference meets, there will be MORE delegates from outside the United States than inside. Most of those delegates are clear that homosexuality is incompatible with Christian teaching.

    My view is that it is time for The United Methodist Church to draft a new Book of Discipline–one that reflects the GLOBAL nature of our church. The current Book of Discipline has become obsolete. Perhaps we can toss out our polity (based on the model of the United States government); and work with our brothers and sisters in places beyond the United States to organize dynamic, faith communities that will be able to meet the demands of a new era.

  • Ben

    This maybe what they want, but not according how God designed the institute of marriage. Unfortunately the more liberal baptists are condoning this sinful lifestyle (no proof of a biological connection to homosexuality). Yes, we as Christians can love them as Christ would, but He also told the woman accused of adultery, “Go and Sin no more.”

  • MMMM! Do you think they will take away the credentials of J. Edward Carothers who conducted such a ceremony in the mid sixties in a New York State United Methodist church? He died in the year 2000 at age 92, but maybe a retroactive kind of deal would be the thing. There is nothing new under the sun that shines upon us. Please let us get over this sad and ugly argument within the UMC and support our fellow human beings in living lives of love and peace.

  • Sexually liberal activists endlessly repeat the claim that their side is gaining ground even when it is directly contrary to the facts. The liberal side is dramatically LOSING ground on this issue in the UMC, which helps explain their pouring their energies into such direct-action disobedience now http://www.theird.org/page.aspx?pid=2447

  • Cas

    Ben – Actually you do realize that your god did not in any way create the modern concept of marriage, right? Modern marriage doesn’t involve any exchange of property, livestock, or money between families. Women are not sold like chattel; couples must be of age; love is now the primary motivation to get married. Allowing LGBT couples to access legal marriage might scare you because it’s new and LGBT couples have been demonized, marginalized, and dehumanized for many years thanks to religion, but think about it: just making marriage a voluntary commitment between two consenting adults who love each other changed marriage more than LGBT people ever could. Maybe you need to brush up on what Biblical forms of marriage actually involved.

    Oh, and just because Jesus(‘s ghostwriters) said “go and sin no more” to someone, that is not an endorsement of *Christians* saying that to anybody. He also said, after all, not to judge people but to leave that to your god. It’s the most hilarious and, I admit, sickening thing to see Christians using that story as if it gives them carte blanche to abuse people in the name of their religion. So, uh, feel free to “go and sin no more” yourself there. Your judgement is not required here. I’m thrilled to see pastors refusing to knuckle under to bigotry and oppression. Love is beating dogma at last.

  • Sean Dugan

    Probably one of the best comments I’ve seen in a while. Unfortunately it has been my experience that Christians listen more to their twisted pastors who are not trying to save them, or anyone else, than they do the word of God. I know having once been a church leader and leaving because those around me forgot that we were there to preach love to EVERYONE and not just a select few. I don’t recall anywhere in the Bible were Jesus himself, who we as Christians claim to follow, ever mentioned homosexuality. Paul certainly did afterward, but we have to remember that was Paul’s words not Jesus’. So please don’t go blaming Jesus because you choose to oppress your fellow man. Jesus won’t be happy with you using him to scapegoat another section of humanity who after all like all the rest are made in God’s image.

  • Gil Caldwell

    It seems to me that we do an injustice to the Gospel and the mission/ministry
    of the Church when some make the claim that the embrace and inclusion of
    those who for reasons of race, gender or sexual orientation have been rendered second class by the Church, is “liberal”. The certainty that some assert as they use the word liberal to denounce inclusion has been addressed
    by Pope Francis in his recent interview; “If a person says that he met God with
    total certainty and is not touched by a margin of uncertainty, then this is not good….It means that he is using religion for himself.”

    There were some who critiqued those of us who were involved in the Civil Rights Movement seeking racial justice by calling us “liberal activists”. HIstory
    has shown that both in society and the Church, racial integration was not liberal, it was right. Marriage equality is not liberal, it too is right.

    “Certainty” about the wrongness of the perspectives of some people, and the rightness of one’s own perspectives, makes it difficult to “grow” spiritually or intellectually, if there is an unwillingness to change. We saw that as “good and gifted” people in church and society, rejected racial integration. Sadly,
    today, persons whose God-given gifts are quite evident, in response to the
    integration of same gender loving persons into marriage, are repeating the attitudes that once were anti-interracial marriage.

  • Chris

    I absolutely agree with you Holly. The UMC is growing so fast in Africa that by the 2016 General Conference the chances of the church changing its stance on Homosexuality is extremely slim and the chances will only decrease every 4 years. I think the UMC will eventually start to become a more evangelical Wesleyan denomination because of this change. But in the US, most of the approved UMC seminaries are pretty moderate/liberal with a couple conservative ones scattered across the country. I think the seminaries that the University Senate has approved is the reason why there is increasing tension in within the church. We have a conservative stance on Homosexuality but most of the future pastors in the UMC are getting a pretty liberal seminary experience.
    I think we also need an Archbishop in UMC to help foster unity because right now we have dozens of bishops across the United States and the globe that are creating their own agenda and only creating a greater divided within the denomination.

  • I am a Lutheran pastor, ELCA. I understand what you are saying about a growing African membership reducing chances of opening the UMC to all people. Episcopalians have a similar problem. Perhaps the UMC will turn to a system similar to what American Lutherans have.

    In the ELCA we are open to everyone. We ordain LBTG pastors and are happy to officiate LBTG weddings. None of the dozens of smaller Lutheran denominations do so. But most of us work together for the common good. The Lutheran World Federation actively engages throughout the world, helping people provide their basic needs. Lutheran Social Services is another NGO that is multi a denominational. Each nation that is home to Lutherans is their own entity. Thus, ELC in Canada, Mexico, Cameroon, Costa Rica, and others.

    BTW, when the ELCA threw our doors open in warm welcome to LBTG folks, some congregations didn’t like it and left us. They were ungrudgingly allowed to do so. We miss them, but we can’t let numbers and income trump the voice of the Holy Spirit. There were losses over women’s ordination and other issues along the way too. It seems that when one Lutheran gets mad at another, he starts a new denomination!

    Hang in there UMC! (One of my favorite denominations.) You’ll get through this and do even greater ministry!!

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  • Yglorba

    It is sad. But articles like this one give me some hope that there are people like Rev. Steve Heiss who are willing to fight back against them.

  • Lewis

    Yglorba, that was a lovely burn. 😀

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