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United Methodists dismiss Ohio pastor

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  • U.M. Cornet
    CALLED OUT INFORMATION SERVICE http://umns.umc.org/00/june/260.htm June 1, 2000 United Methodists dismiss Ohio pastor News media contact: Linda Bloom· (212)
    Message 1 of 1 , Jun 1, 2000
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      CALLED OUT INFORMATION SERVICE

      http://umns.umc.org/00/june/260.htm

      June 1, 2000
      United Methodists dismiss Ohio pastor
      News media contact: Linda Bloom� (212) 870-3803� New York

      By United Methodist News Service

      A United Methodist pastor from Ohio has been dismissed from the ministry
      because of his sexual orientation.

      In a May 31 executive session, clergy members of the West Ohio Annual
      (regional) Conference voted to discontinue 30-year-old Phil Hart from
      probationary membership. He was a "deacon probationary member" and had not
      yet achieved final status as an elder with full connection to the church.

      Hart, who works for a social service agency in Franklin County, was ordained
      in 1996 but told church officials later in 1998 that he is homosexual and
      cannot promise to remain celibate. The United Methodist Book of Discipline
      has defined the practice of homosexuality as being "incompatible with
      Christian teaching" and states "self-avowed practicing homosexuals are not
      to be accepted as candidates, ordained as ministers or appointed to serve in
      the United Methodist Church."

      The Rev. Tom Slack, editor of the West Ohio Conference newspaper, said the
      vote to dismiss Hart was not unanimous but that no vote count had been
      released. Four other probationary members also were discontinued. One had
      died, two others had decided to join other denominations, and a fourth had
      exceeded the time limit for the probationary period.

      A native of Columbus, Ohio, Hart is a lifelong United Methodist and graduate
      of Asbury Theological Seminary in Kentucky. Currently finishing work on a
      master's degree in communications, he served eight years as a pastor in
      local churches and taught theology for two years at Circleville College.

      Last November, Hart was one of six "witnesses" in a conversation on
      homosexuality sponsored by the United Methodist Commission on Christian
      Unity and Interreligious Concerns. During that discussion, he shared
      experiences about both his childhood calling to the ministry and his growing
      self-loathing about his attraction to men, even to the point of
      contemplating suicide. At the age of 27, he said then, he finally decided to
      accept himself as he was.

      NOTE FOR OPTIONAL INCLUSION: A videotape from the November conversation,
      called "The Witnesses," is available from the commission at a cost of $10
      plus shipping and handling. For more information, call Olga Diaz at (212)
      749-3553 or send an e-mail to odiaz@....

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