Rev. Dr. Thomas Ogletree, a United Methodist minister and former dean of Yale Divinity, will be tried by a church council because he officiated at his son’s marriage to a man in October 2012, thus breaking rules that bar Methodist clergy from blessing same-sex unions.
A complaint was filed against Ogletree with a regional church body shortly afterward, and he was notified last week that charges had been filed, according to Methodists in New Directions, a group that advocates for LGBT equality within the denomination. The trial will take place March 10 at a church in Stamford, Conn.
Ogletree said he could not refuse his son’s request to conduct the wedding, which was announced in the New York Times Vows section, with the story noting that the officiant was “the Rev. Dr. Thomas W. Ogletree, a United Methodist minister.” The minister’s son, Thomas Rimbey Ogletree, married Nicholas William Haddad in New York City.
“I could not with any integrity as a Christian refuse my son’s request to preside at his wedding,” he said in a press release from Methodists in New Directions. “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.’”
Ogletree’s trial will be the latest in a string of actions against Methodist clergy who have broken with church leadership and embraced same-sex marriage.
Last year Rev. Frank Schaefer was convicted of violating Methodist law and stripped of his clergy credentials for officiating at his son’s same-sex wedding. Bishop Melvin Talbert blessed a gay couple in Alabama last October, leading to complaints by other Methodist bishops. Other ministers, in New York and the Pacific Northwest, are awaiting similar charges.
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.