Lesbian Minister Faces Trial
BY Advocate.com Editors
February 15 2011 3:15 PM ET
A lesbian United Methodist minister in Wisconsin will be tried by a church court April 11 on charges relating to her sexual orientation and her performance of a same-sex commitment ceremony.
The Reverend Amy DeLong is charged with “being a self-avowed practicing homosexual” and “conducting ceremonies which celebrate homosexual unions,” both of which violate the church’s Book of Discipline, according to the United Methodist News Service. A guilty verdict could result in DeLong’s removal from the ministry.
DeLong, who lives in Osceola, Wis., officiated at a lesbian couple’s union in 2009. That same year, she and her partner registered as domestic partners under Wisconsin law. She reported both actions to the denomination. “Over the years, I came to realize that hiding who I am and living a divided life was taking a toll on my soul and psyche in ways I was afraid couldn’t be repaired,” she told the news service.
The church committee that charged DeLong “almost seemed reluctant to do so,” the news service reported, as the committee cited her “extraordinary courage” in coming out and called the prohibition on gay clergy inconsistent with the church’s commitment to social justice. However, the committee also noted that the church rules are clear, so it brought the charges against DeLong.
Recently many of the church’s retired bishops signed on to a statement urging an end to the ban on LGBT clergy.
DeLong was a pastor for eight years, and since 2006, while remaining an ordained minister, she has been executive director of Kairos CoMotion, which advocates for progressive causes. Her trial will be held at the First United Methodist Church in Appleton, Wis.