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    CALLED OUT INFORMATION SERVICE Three items. ... Friday, May 31, 2002 Gay Methodist pastor will keep pulpit, church panel rules By Ruth Schubert seattle
    Message 1 of 1 , Jun 2, 2002

      Three items.


      Friday, May 31, 2002
      Gay Methodist pastor will keep pulpit, church panel rules
      By Ruth Schubert
      seattle Post-intelligencer Reporter
      <BIG SNIP>

      "This gives tremendous encouragement to lesbians, gays, bisexuals,
      transsexuals in the ministry who realize that if they won't testify
      against themselves, it will be very hard to make charges against them
      stick," [The Rev. Paul Beeman, a spokesman for the Reconciling
      Ministries Network in Washington state] said. <SNIP>

      "While my story was a 'happy ending,' there are still clergy who live
      within the closet," he Rev. Mark Edward Williams said. "I hope my
      success is the first step toward full acceptance within the United
      Methodist Church."


      Thursday, May 30, 2002
      Statement from Amory Peck, national co-spokesperson for Affirmation:

      "Many LGBT persons are lifelong members of The United Methodist
      Church. They were nurtured by their congregations, baptized into the
      faith, and some heard a calling to ministry."

      "Today's decision allowing Mark to continue as pastor brings a sense
      of hope to LGBT clergy throughout the country. However, there is
      much work still to be done to eliminate the prohibitions against the
      ordination of homosexuals from the official language of the church.
      We will continue to strive to make the United Methodist Church a
      place of inclusion and justice for all persons."


      From the Pacific NorthWest Reconciling Ministries Network

      May 30, 2001

      SEATTLE, Finding insufficient evidence to sustain complaints against
      the Rev. Mark Edward Williams, pastor of Seattle's Woodland Park
      United Methodist Church, the Annual Conference Committee on
      Investigation today dropped all charges against him.

      Williams is now free to continue his career as an ordained United
      Methodist minister.

      In the hearing, two arguments were advanced by the Rev. David Vergin,
      counsel for Williams. One was that the practice of homosexuality
      remains undefined by the denomination. The other was that no evidence
      was offered against Williams regarding the charge of practices
      incompatible with Christian teaching. The committee apparently
      accepted both arguments.

      After Williams publicly "came out" as a gay man following a report to
      his Annual Conference in Tacoma last June, Bishop Elias Galvan of
      Seattle said he felt compelled to file an official complaint,
      charging him with "practices declared by The United Methodist Church
      to be incompatible with Christian teaching."

      Meeting in Seattle today, the nine-member committee of seven clergy
      and two lay members took only two hours to render its unanimous
      finding. In a terse statement the committee chairperson, the Rev.
      Patricia Simpson of Seattle, declared: "The committee found there was
      not reasonable cause to forward the matter for a church trial." Thus,
      "the Committee on Investigation decided to dismiss a complaint
      against him."
      The committee report now ends any judicial procedure against the
      popular minister, and he is free to continue as pastor of the
      Woodland Park Church.

      His Woodland Park congregation is rejoicing. Many church members had
      spent the morning in a prayer vigil at the church, praying for his

      Maggie Brown, chair of the congregation's Committee on Pastor-Parish
      Relations, said Williams' ministry has been both deeply spiritual and
      truly uniting for the mid-sized congregation. "We are deeply pleased
      and relieved that we will be able to continue as the beneficiaries of
      his effective ministry here at Woodland Park Church," she said. "I
      wish every church could have a pastor as fine as ours."

      Amory Peck, of Bellingham, coordinator of the unofficial Pacific
      Northwest United Methodist Reconciling Ministries Network, exuded,
      "Today we are rejoicing as Mark Williams is freed to continue his
      calling. Now we look forward to working within this invigorated
      spirit of justice and reconciliation in the United Methodist Church."

      She noted that both lay and clergy members of the Reconciling
      Ministries Network throughout Washington State have stood with
      Williams during the past year, as he was threatened with expulsion
      from the ministry.

      "We surrounded him in his grief and supported him when he was denied
      his pastoral appointment one year ago. Recently we gathered with the
      parishioners of Woodland Park Church when Mark faced a hearing before
      the national Judicial Council (the denomination's supreme court), and
      we lamented the first council decision which called for him to be
      suspended. We rejoiced at the revised judicial decision which has
      allowed Mark's continued ministry while his case was pending.

      "Further," said Ms. Peck, "we applauded Bishop Elias Galvan's
      affirmation of Mark's effective ministry by reinstating him as pastor
      of Woodland Park Church."

      The Seattle decision will have a positive impact on thousands of
      United Methodist clergy nationwide, according to the Rev. Paul
      Beeman, Des Moines, spokesperson for the Washington State Reconciling
      Ministries Network.

      He explained that the Judicial Council earlier ruled that, for
      evidence against suspected homosexuals to be sufficient,
      Investigating Committees must be informed of the clergy's most
      intimate sexual activities--but only by those suspected of practicing
      homosexual behavior. He noted that few if any clergy may be willing
      to answer such inappropriate questions.

      Beeman said the nationwide Reconciling Ministries Network members
      hope that any and all United Methodist clergy who may be lesbian or
      gay might now feel freer than ever to be open and honest about who
      they really are as Christians and as clergy.

      Thanks to the courage and perseverance of Mark Williams and his case,
      Beeman said that Reconciling Ministries Network members fervently
      hope that congregations across America will recognize increasingly
      the spiritual strength and leadership ability of committed gay and
      lesbian Christians in the ministry.

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