CALLED OUT INFORMATION SERVICE
Three stories, 2 on Pacific Northwest Annual Conference and 1
summarizing some of the actions related to lesbian, gay, bisexual,
and transgendered people at UM Annual Conferences this year.
Friday, June 29, 2001
Gay Seattle pastor gets church assignment, not appointment
A UMNS Report
By Tim Tanton*
A Seattle United Methodist pastor who announced recently that he is
gay has been assigned to a new position at his current church, but
his supervisor will officially take leadership of the congregation as
The Rev. Mark Edward Williams will become minister of congregational
life at Woodland Park United Methodist Church effective July 1,
Bishop Elias G. Galvan told United Methodist News Service on June 28,
following a press conference in Seattle. The position is being
created specifically for Williams in cooperation with the church,
said the bishop, who oversees the denomination's Seattle Area.
"Mark will work with the congregation and provide for their needs on
a daily basis," Galvan said.
The Rev. Bob Hoshibata, superintendent of the denomination's Seattle
District, will serve as interim pastor of Woodland Park in addition
to continuing his current duties. The church has about 150 members,
with weekly worship attendance of about 80.
On June 15, Williams told fellow clergy and lay members of the
Pacific Northwest Annual Conference that he is a practicing gay man.
The announcement came as a surprise to people gathered for the
conference's yearly meeting in Tacoma, Wash. In addition to being a
meeting, the annual conference is a geographical unit that
constitutes the church's Seattle Area.
After his revelation, Williams was not given an appointment to a
congregation for the coming year, which begins July 1. United
Methodist law, spelled out in the denomination's Book of Discipline,
forbids the ordination or appointment of "self-avowed practicing
However, the book also dictates that ordained elders in good standing
must be appointed. Since Williams and two other self-avowed
homosexual pastors in the conference are clergy members in good
standing, the Pacific Northwest members are asking the United
Methodist Judicial Council for a declaratory decision on the two
passages in the Book of Discipline. The Judicial Council, which
serves as the denomination's supreme court, meets in October.
After the Judicial Council rules, Galvan said he will review
Williams' position at Woodland Park. Williams said he hopes to be
reappointed pastor of his church.
Galvan is describing Williams' job as an assignment rather than an
appointment. The bishop said he is not aware that such an assignment
has been made anywhere else in the church. "There is no road map at
this point," he said. "We're trying to be responsible to the needs of
the church, be responsible to Mark as a person who is caught between
these two paragraphs (of the Book of Discipline), and also to live
within the discipline of our church. We are not going outside the
discipline of our church."
Hoshibata met with the Woodland Park congregation on June 27 and
found strong support for Williams' ministry. The district
superintendent consulted with Galvan and the rest of the bishop's
cabinet, then assigned Williams to handle the ministry at Woodland
Park under his supervision. Ordained in 1998, Williams had been
senior pastor at the church since 1999.
"Mark has been an effective pastor, a well-respected leader in the
church and has the confidence and support of the congregation,"
As interim pastor, Hoshibata will be preaching from time to time and
attending to the life of the congregation, Galvan said. "He will be
directly accountable for what happens there." Other people, including
Williams, will preach at the church too, the bishop said.
The details and limitations of Williams' position have not been
worked out, Galvan said.
"His ordination has not been revoked," the bishop noted. "He is a
member in good standing in the conference." As such, Williams can
celebrate communion and baptism, and perform other church rites.
Williams said he is working on a couple of weddings, and he also has
a baptism scheduled.
"From what I understand, most of the day-to-day kinds of things that
I have done in ministry here as an appointed pastor I will continue
to be doing as an assigned pastor," Williams said. "I think the main
difference is going to happen in the presence and ongoing supervision
of the district superintendent, and ultimately, he will be the pastor
in charge of the congregation. So just by way of authority and
responsibility, the things that I will be doing won't change too
much, but I won't be the pastor in charge of the congregation any
Williams' position is fully salaried. "We're caught between those two
paragraphs of the (Book of) Discipline," Galvan said. "As clergy in
good standing, he's supposed to receive an appointment, but I feel
responsible for finding a position that will provide a salary for him
while the Judicial Council takes a look at our request and makes a
During the annual conference, Williams said that being gay is a core
part of his identity. "I'm proudly as much a practicing gay man as I
am a practicing United Methodist," he said then.
The Woodland Park members have shown him support. "I have received
only overwhelming support from the congregation since my
announcement," Williams said June 28. He had told some of the church
leaders ahead of time, so they could be prepared and get the word out
to other church members, he said. Woodland Park members attended
annual conference to show support for him when he made his statement,
he said. He has been flooded with phone calls, cards and e-mail, many
of them from congregation members, expressing support for him. He has
heard no opposition, he said.
During the annual conference, Williams was one of three pastors who
were open about their homosexuality and about their desire to lead
The Rev. Karen Dammann disclosed in a February letter to Galvan that
she is living in a covenanted partnership with another woman, and
that they have a son. Dammann wanted Galvan to appoint her to a
congregation, but Galvan said he could not under the Book of
Discipline. Dammann, like Williams, was placed under Hoshibata's
direct supervision when clergy appointments were announced at annual
"We are presently working on trying to find a position for Rev.
Dammann," Galvan said. "We do not know exactly what it will be. There
are several options, but nothing has yet been agreed upon. We have to
find something that not only fits her needs but will also fit the
needs of the position itself." Dammann has told the bishop that she
will be available Aug. 1. She is currently living in Massachusetts
with her partner and son.
Dammann served at Woodland Park before Williams was appointed there.
"It's a remarkable coincidence," Williams said. The members of the
church "responded very graciously" to Dammann's news about her
homosexuality, he said.
"There is not unanimity in this congregation about homosexuality ...
but there is a very unanimous sense of grace and love and
acceptance," Williams said. That was expressed in the situation with
Dammann and again with him, he said.
A third pastor, the Rev. Katie Ladd, announced at annual conference
that she is homosexual. Ladd is on paid medical disability, Galvan
said. Though she has talked about wanting an appointment, she has not
presented the necessary evidence that she is ready for one and that
the conditions that created her disability have been addressed, the
# # #
*Tanton is news editor for United Methodist News Service.
Friday, June 29, 2001
Compromise keeps gay pastor in ministry
By Marsha King
Seattle Times staff reporter
A popular gay pastor will be allowed to continue ministering to his
North Seattle congregation for now, but only under the supervision of
an interim pastor, a United Methodist bishop announced yesterday.
Tuesday, July 3, 2001
Annual conferences focus on igniting their ministries
United Methodist News Service
News media contact: Tim Tanton� (615)742-5470� Nashville, Tenn.
NOTE: This story is based on reports filed by individuals in each
annual conference. It is intended to be illustrative of conference
actions and activities, not an exhaustive report. Individual reports
may be found at http://umns.umc.org/acreports/index.html.
from central conferences outside the United States, meeting
throughout the year, will be posted on the Web site as available. For
related coverage, see UMNS stories #306 and #307.
The perennial struggle at annual conferences over inclusiveness for
practicing homosexuals was not as salient this year. However, in the
Pacific Northwest Conference, three self-avowed homosexual pastors
expressed a desire to receive appointments to congregations. One of
the three remains on disability leave, and the other two were placed
under the direction of the Seattle District superintendent. The
conference is requesting a declaratory decision from the Judicial
Council, the denomination's supreme court, over two relevant passages
in the church's Book of Discipline. One forbids the ordination and
appointment of self-avowed practicing homosexuals, while the other
requires that all clergy members in good standing receive
appointments. The council meets in October.
In California-Nevada, the conference adopted a resolution asking all
of its churches to reflect on and discuss the "We Will Not Be Silent"
statement adopted by the Western Jurisdiction last summer. The
statement calls on the denomination to remove its strictures against
full inclusion of practicing homosexuals in the life of the church.
Rocky Mountain and Oregon-Idaho also endorsed the statement.
California-Pacific members requested further conversation regarding
the document, and asked the Western Jurisdiction College of Bishops
to address diversity in the church, possibly through a special
session of the jurisdictional conference.
Desert Southwest members affirmed by a 191-137 vote the "We Will Not
Be Silent" resolution. The resolution prompted a question concerning
church law, and Bishop William Dew ruled that the resolution was not
in violation of the Book of Discipline. His decision will be
forwarded to the Judicial Council for a ruling � standard procedure
for all bishops' rulings from annual conference sessions.
During the New England Conference's ordination service, about 60
clergy members removed their stoles and placed them along the
communion table. Each stole represented someone who was denied clergy
status in the denomination or has left the ministry because of his or
her sexual orientation. On the conference's final night, two pastors
from opposite sides of the issue expressed their feelings about the
North Carolina members approved a resolution calling for evangelizing
gay and lesbian people. Virginia endorsed the "Christian Declaration
on Marriage," which holds that marriage is a covenant that should be
shared between a man and a woman.
Alabama-West Florida approved a petition calling on United
Methodist-related Emory University in Atlanta to uphold the
denomination's policies opposing same-sex unions.
West Michigan members adopted a resolution encouraging conference
churches to use a document called "The Church Studies Homosexuality"
to get a better understanding of the views held by United Methodists.
New York members adopted a resolution affirming that all people,
regardless of sexual orientation or other status, are welcome in the
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