More on Mark Williams
- CALLED OUT INFORMATION SERVICE
Friday, May 31, 2002
Gay Methodist pastor will keep pulpit, church panel rules
By Ruth Schubert
seattle Post-intelligencer Reporter
"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
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
PNW COMMITTEE ON INVESTIGATION FINDS "NO REASONABLE CAUSE"
TO CHARGE REV. MARK EDWARD WILLIAMS
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
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
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
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.
Do You Yahoo!?
Yahoo! - Official partner of 2002 FIFA World Cup