By Michael O'Loughlin
Originally published on Advocate.com March 12 2014 3:39 PM ET
The United Methodist Church has dropped charges against a prominent minister who had faced punishment for officiating his son's wedding to another man, according to a press release from Methodists in New Directions.
United Methodist bishop Martin McLee and Rev. Dr. Thomas W. Ogletree, the former dean of Yale Divinity School, announced in a joint press conference Monday that the charges had been dropped and the McLee would approach same-sex marriage as a theological and spiritual issue rather than a juridical problem.
The press release notes that this announcement is "the first time ever a sitting United Methodist bishop has categorically declared he will not prosecute pastors for ministering to LGBTQ people."
“I am grateful that Bishop McLee has withdrawn this case and the church is no longer prosecuting me for an act of pastoral faithfulness and fatherly love,” Ogletree said. “But I am even more grateful that he is vowing not to prosecute others who have been likewise faithful in ministry to LGBTQ people. May our bishop’s commitment to cease such prosecutions be the beginning of the end of the United Methodist Church’s misguided era of discriminating against LGBTQ people.”
McLee said that "church trials produce no winners" and that in his role as the Methodist bishop of New York, there would be a "cessation of church trials for conducting ceremonies which celebrate homosexual unions or performing same-gender wedding ceremonies and instead offer a process of theological, spiritual and ecclesiastical conversation."
As part of their agreement, McLee said the Methodist Church will host a series of conversations about LGBT issues, including one where Ogletree will participate.
As reported in The Advocate, Ogletree faced trial for presiding over the 2012 wedding of his son Thomas to Nicholas Haddad, which was highlighted in a New York Times announcement. Ogletree said at the time that he "could not with any integrity as a Christian refuse my son’s request to preside at his wedding,” according to a press release from Methodists in New Directions.
The United Methodist Church is the second-largest Protestant denomination in the U.S., with 7.5 million members in the nation. The church “does not condone the practice of homosexuality, and considers this practice incompatible with Christian teaching,” according to the 2012 Book of Discipline of the United Methodist Church.