The openly gay pastor of a Hawaii church has been asked to step down. The Reverend Vaughn Beckman said he expects to preach his last sermon on October 12 at First Christian Church, located in the Makiki section of Honolulu. An August 27 fire at the church caused considerable damage. Investigators said the fire was arson, but they declined to classify it as a hate crime. Tamra VonBlankenberg, chairwoman of the church's board, said the request for Beckman to leave had nothing to do with his being gay and nothing to do with the fire.
Beckman said he was limited in what he could discuss but said the issue was whether he could accept a new kind of performance report in which anyone in the church could evaluate him anonymously. Beckman has been pastor of the church for two years. He is the only openly gay minister of a mainline Christian denomination in Hawaii. The church is part of the Disciples of Christ denomination.