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UM Appeals Committee Upholds Decision Concerning Karen Dammann

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  • umcornet <umcornet@yahoo.com>
    CALLED OUT ... Appeals committee upholds decision in lesbian pastor case By United Methodist News Service A United Methodist appeals committee has upheld the
    Message 1 of 1 , Jan 31, 2003

      Appeals committee upholds decision in lesbian pastor case

      By United Methodist News Service

      A United Methodist appeals committee has upheld the dismissal of a
      charge against a pastor who had disclosed that she was living in a
      same-gender relationship.

      The United Methodist Church's Western Jurisdiction Committee on
      Appeals, meeting Jan. 29-30 in Seattle, voted 4-3 to affirm the
      dismissal of the charge against the Rev. Karen Dammann. The ruling
      upholds a July 24 decision by the Pacific Northwest Annual (regional)
      Conference Committee on Investigation.

      A member of the Pacific Northwest Conference, Dammann had informed
      her bishop in 2001 that she was living in a "partnered, covenanted,
      homosexual relationship." Bishop Elias Galvan, who leads the Seattle-
      based conference, later filed a complaint against Dammann at the
      direction of the Judicial Council, the denomination's top court. He
      cited "practices declared by the United Methodist Church to be
      incompatible with Christian teachings." While affirming gays as
      people of sacred worth, the denomination's Book of Discipline forbids
      the ordination and appointment of self-avowed practicing homosexuals
      in the United Methodist Church.

      In handling Galvan's complaint, the committee on investigation
      determined that reasonable grounds did not exist for moving the
      matter to a clergy trial. The bishop then asked the committee on
      appeals to determine whether "egregious errors of church law or
      administration" warranted overturning that decision.

      "The Western Jurisdiction Committee on Appeals finds there were not
      egregious errors committed and affirms the action of the committee on
      investigation in the matter of Karen Dammann," the Jan. 30 ruling

      "I know that this decision may be difficult for some people to
      understand," Galvan said in a statement after the ruling. "The church
      has a very rigorous judicial process. We have faithfully followed
      that process, and I respect the outcome."

      Dammann was pleased with the ruling and told United Methodist News
      Service that she will seek an appointment to a Pacific Northwest
      congregation for the next church year, which begins July 1.

      "I am very happy," she said Jan. 31. She "breathed a sigh of relief"
      at the appeals committee's decision, she said.

      Dammann is on family leave, living with her partner and their son in
      Amherst, Mass. The uncertainty surrounding her case had prevented
      them from moving back across the country to Washington state.

      "It seems more likely now there would be stability to the situation,
      without any threat of various (church legal) procedures hanging over
      our heads," Dammann said.

      She had served congregations in Seattle throughout most of the 1990s
      before going on leave in 1999. Her request in 2001 for an appointment
      was put on hold because of church legalities related to her
      disclosure that she was in a same-gender relationship. She later
      received an appointment to do a research project for a Seattle church
      from her home in Amherst, but that assignment ended last year and she
      has been back on leave since then.

      The appeals committee comprises nine lay and clergy members, elected
      by United Methodist churches from across the western United States.
      The committee's decisions can only be appealed to the Judicial
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