United Methodist ministers from all over Michigan gathered in Lansing, the state capital, Tuesday to support a pastor who lost his job for being gay — and to call for their church to become fully inclusive of LGBT people.
More than 50 came to support the Rev. Benjamin Hutchison, who this month was forced to resign as pastor of Cassopolis United Methodist Church in southwestern Michigan because he is in a same-sex relationship, reports MLive, a website for several Michigan newspapers.
“I would never imagine this, and I could have never imagined the support not only from my local congregation, who is in an uproar about it, but also from my community,” said Hutchison, according to MLive. He added that the support was particularly gratifying because he did not receive such acceptance from his family, who made him choose between them and his partner.
The ministers also delivered a pledge called “Stop the Harm” to the regional bishop’s office in Lansing. They taped it to the door of his office, in imitation of Martin Luther, who nailed his 95 Theses, expressing objections to policies of the Roman Catholic Church, to the door of a church in Germany in 1517, helping to start the Protestant Reformation.
Major points in the pledge include promises to “fully support, celebrate and participate in all of the meaningful moments of a person's life regardless of sexual orientation or gender identity” and “support all of God’s children in answering their call to ordination and pastoral ministry within the United Methodist Church regardless of sexual orientation or gender identity.”
The church does not currently allow same-sex marriage or openly LGBT clergy. Some ministers have defied those policies, including those who participated in the recent ceremony in which Hutchison married his partner, Monty. They are now facing a church trial.
The Rev. Michael Tupper, who signed the Hutchisons’ marriage license, said Tuesday that it’s important to him to stand up for LGBT equality in the church especially because his daughter, who is gay, has been hurt by its policies. “It’s time for that to stop,” he said, according to MLive.