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Complaints filed against two clergy over same-sex unions

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  • U.M. Cornet
    CALLED OUT INFORMATION SERVICE Complaints filed against two clergy over same-sex unions June 28, 2000 News media contact: Linda Bloom· (212) 870-3803· New
    Message 1 of 1 , Jun 28, 2000

      Complaints filed against two clergy over same-sex unions
      June 28, 2000 News media contact: Linda Bloom� (212) 870-3803� New York

      By United Methodist News Service

      Officials in two United Methodist annual (regional) conferences � New
      England and Nebraska -- are dealing with formal complaints filed against
      clergy who have performed same-sex union ceremonies in violation of the
      church�s Book of Discipline.

      The New England case has been dealt with by the area�s Bishop Susan Wolfe
      Hassinger. The Nebraska complaint is still being processed.

      In a June 25 statement to the congregation at Brown Memorial United
      Methodist Church in Clinton, Maine, Hassinger said that the Rev. Susan
      Davenport, Brown's pastor, had acknowledged "with deep regret" that she had
      performed the ceremony. The 1999 ceremony did not occur at the church.

      Hassinger said Davenport had "asked forgiveness and vows not to repeat this

      Terry E. Stubenrod, a member of the Brown congregation, told the Bangor
      (Maine) Daily News that she filed the complaint against Davenport April 16.

      The bishop's statement did not specify steps "necessary for just
      resolution," but it was noted that Davenport had agreed to fulfill the

      Brown Memorial's pastor-parish relations committee also issued a statement
      regarding the charges brought against Davenport.

      "Throughout this process, we have remained united in our support of the
      ministry and leadership of our pastor, the Rev. Susan Davenport, in this
      congregation and the greater community," the statement said. "We are
      satisfied that our bishop has dealt appropriately with just resolution as
      communicated to us on her behalf today at the close of worship."

      The committee recognized the question of same-sex union ceremonies is an
      issue within the denomination and society. "Although this has been a
      difficult experience for our congregation, we have grown in our Christian
      faith, and hope it will inspire others to have the courage to speak out in
      the name of justice for all God's people," the statement said.

      Davenport, who is on sabbatical, is expected to return to the church in

      Nebraska Bishop Joel Martinez confirmed with United Methodist News Service
      that a complaint has been filed against the Rev. Mark Kemling, a clergy
      member of the conference who is on leave of absence. Reportedly, Kemling
      presided over a union ceremony for two men June 3 at a Metropolitan
      Community Church in Omaha. Martinez said the complaint is being processed as
      called for in the church�s Book of Discipline. He would not identify the
      individual who filed the complaint and said he did not know when a decision
      in the case would be made.

      The issue is not a new one for the Nebraska Conference, which tried Jimmy
      Creech twice for officiating at same-sex unions. The first church trial in
      March 1998 ended in acquittal. After his November 1999 trial, he was
      stripped of his ministerial credentials.

      By a vote of 646 to 294, delegates at the United Methodist General
      Conference in Cleveland May 2-12 voted to retain language in the Book of
      Discipline that prohibits clergy from conducting same-sex union ceremonies
      and does not allow church facilities to be used for such events.

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