Tom Ogletree photo courtesy Yale Divinity School

Tom Ogletree photo courtesy of Yale Divinity School


This image is available for Web and print publication. For questions, contact Sally Morrow.

(RNS) The trial of a retired United Methodist pastor and former Yale Divinity School dean accused of breaking church law by performing a gay wedding has been delayed indefinitely.

Bishop Clifton Ives, a retired Maine bishop overseeing the trial, and pastors representing the church and the Rev. Thomas Ogletree, all agreed to pursue a “just resolution” before resorting to a trial, said the Rev. William S. Shillady, secretary of the trial court.

Ogletree, 80, faced a church trial March 10 and 11 in Stamford, Conn., for officiating at the 2012 wedding of his son to another man. The church defines marriage as between a man and a woman, and bans clergy from performing and churches from hosting same-sex ceremonies.

The New York Conference of the United Methodist Church, to which Ogletree belongs, announced the postponement Monday (Feb. 10).

Ogletree has repeatedly said he has no regrets about his son’s wedding. He has said he considers the church rules to be bad laws, and insists he will not change his mind.

Ogletree’s case follows the high-profile defrocking of Frank Schaefer, a former Pennsylvania pastor found guilty of officiating at his son’s wedding to another man. Several other church trials on the issue are possible in the near future.

In the wake of the Schaefer case, clergy and bishops have called for an end to church trials, saying they are divisive and expensive.

YS/AMB END GADOUA

31 Comments

  1. I surely hope they will drop the trial entirely! As a former student at a United Methodist seminary, I’d hope the more traditional part of the UMC leadership would act un-fearfully and sensibly and allow the natural progression of things on this issue (as others). No dire consequences are going to ensue!

    • Howard, my friend, the “natural progression” of any church leader should be to obey and preach God’s Word, which has never “progressed” from calling homosexuality sinful. This UM clergyman should face trial for violating the covenant he made with the UMC.

      • Its funny how “God’s Word” always seems to progress away from the notions of what life was like in Biblical times.

        Not long ago many churches were preaching that racial mixing was sinful. Not long ago many churches openly endorsed sectarian hatred and anti-semitism as following God’s word.

        When a church finally gets the idea that they are fighting a social tide beyond their ability to contain, they adapt. Suddenly those provisions which used to be so important become less so. Those who were beholden to the old ways become marginalized or split off to form their own groups.

        God’s word changes because to live strictly according to it (the way it is interpreted by many) leaves the world a crappy angry place. Modern living and peaceful coexistence with others requires those notions codified by Bronze Age goaterdsmen to be tweaked over the centuries.

        • I wish people like yourself who lack basic biblical understanding would stop commenting on Christian issues. It is irrelevant what “churches” or “men” teach since “churches” and “men” are sinful with many faults. However, God’s Word and the Bible are crystal clear in regards to the homosexual issue. God and His Word is the same today as in Old Testament times regardless of our present culture, man’s depravity and your total lack of knowledge of the Bible.

          • “Lack of biblical understanding”. Not at all. Just an understanding of how society moves and the knowledge which comes from reading more than one book. Everyone Christian says they have a monopoly on God’s word and an interpretation of the Bible. Its all nonsense. Every Christian sect thinks their ideas are the only way for “True Christians”. This is why there are over 500+ different denominations. Just because you think yours is correct doesn’t mean a thing.

            Anyone who says, “God’s word is unchanging” is truly Biblically ignorant. How we interpret what is important and what isn’t within the text has changed radically over the centuries. If it is crystal clear, it is because your view is unmuddied by thought, reflection or intelligent analysis of the text.

            The Bible says a lot more about dealing with idolatry and adultery than it ever said about homosexuality. Homosexuality ranked up there with eating shellfish and wearing mixed fabrics. Jesus Both idolatry and adultery were the worst acts one can do in the Bible. But our society finds both to be of zero consequence. Not only does it not care, it finds offense in making such things crimes.

            The Bible only clear for people who don’t feel like thinking too hard and want to use religion as an excuse to act in a way which would be socially unacceptable otherwise.

          • Don, you do realize that people used Bible verses to defend their belief that interracial marriage was sinful, right? The same exact way people pick and choose verses to defend the “fact” that the Bible says homosexuality is wrong. Genesis 9:25-27 (the curse of Canaan) seemed to be the most commonly used, as people were convinced that Ham (the father of Canaan) translated literally to “burnt” or “black,” which they then took as meaning his descendants had dark skin. Silly I know, but true and widely accepted at the time!

            The real problem is that people are happy to take parts of the Bible and use them to defend whatever they believe at the time. Often when this happens, they are also ignoring other verses in the same book, even sometimes the same chapter, that call out sins people commit daily without a second thought.

            Before you tell me I shouldn’t comment because I have no basic Biblical understand, please note that I have studied the Bible almost my entire life!

        • Larry, I do believe the Bible is the inspired and perfect Word of God. I believe that God is more than powerful enough to make sure his Word to us, the Bible, was just the way he willed, perfect! I understand that there are some minor issues in regards to language and translation. However, if one studies the Bible in his own language along with the original Hebrew or Greek he or she will understand how consistent the Bible is from beginning to end.

          Yes, I believe that the only way to God, salvation and truth is through His Son, Jesus Christ.

          • Then you are one of those people whose opinions of religion are unmuddied by giving it thought, research and contemplation. You don’t want to understand how it was written, its original contexts or how its meanings shift with the centuries. You are happy in your ignorance.

            As long as you can use the Bible to justify how you want to live and treat other people, it serves its purpose.

          • Larry,

            It’s rather funny how you attack my character when you don’t even know me. Yes, let’s not stick to the issue at hand LET’S JUST ASSUME WHATEVER IS IN OUR THICK HEAD AND ATTACK!

    • Thomas Wright

      Go with the flow, eh? There are far more heterosexual adulterers out there than gays. Perhaps we should say that’s ok. Lots of children disobedient to parents. Forget that commandment. Stealing? Lying? The numbers way favor doing both. The natural progression of things is, “As in the days of Noah, so shall it be”.

  2. Fred Mitchell

    “Not long ago many churches were preaching that racial mixing was sinful. Not long ago many churches openly endorsed sectarian hatred and anti-semitism as following God’s word.

    When a church finally gets the idea that they are fighting a social tide beyond their ability to contain, they adapt.”

    The issue is not what churches preach, but rather what does the Bible say. The Bible does not teach that racial mixing is sinful. A church might preach that racial mixing is sinful but the church does not speak for God. Homosexual activity is clearly called SIN in the Bible. Therefore, churches should preach that sexual behavior outside the marriage of one man and one woman is sinful. Woe unto man who exchanges good for evil and evil for good.

    • Fred,

      If what the churches preach is not the issue (“The issue is not what churches preach, but rather what does the Bible say”), then why bother talking about what churches should preach (“churches should preach that sexual behavior outside the marriage of one man and one woman is sinful”)? You’re contradicting yourself.

    • Your own words are evidence and proof that you are a Hypocrite. You attack the Church and Christianity using the same bias and logic of those “many churches.”

  3. Do you not see a contradiction between statements which say that it is irrelevant what men or churches teach, but that the Word of God is clear? You are at once stating that the hermaneutic of others are faulty while your perspective of truth from scripture is “clear”. Many Biblical scholars believe it is unclear. If that understanding and teaching is due to their sinfulness, how is it that your are able to clearly ascertain the truth of Scripture? Are you not also hampered by what you claim challenges them? This is a complex issue, to state it so simply and dogmatically is to misunderstand it.

    • “God’s Word” from the bible cannot be taken literally period. Here are some of the wonderful things found in the bible:

      When you buy a male Hebrew slave, he shall serve for six years, but in the seventh he shall go out a free person, without debt. If he comes in single, he shall go out single; if he comes in married, then his wife shall go out with him. If his master gives him a wife and she bears him sons or daughters, the wife and her children shall be her master’s and he shall go out alone. But if the slave declares, ‘I love my master, my wife, and my children; I will not go out a free person’, then his master shall bring him before God. He shall be brought to the door or the doorpost; and his master shall pierce his ear with an awl; and he shall serve him for life.
      When a man sells his daughter as a slave, she shall not go out as the male slaves do. If she does not please her master, who designated her for himself, then he shall let her be redeemed; he shall have no right to sell her to a foreign people, since he has dealt unfairly with her. If he designates her for his son, he shall deal with her as with a daughter. If he takes another wife to himself, he shall not diminish the food, clothing, or marital rights of the first wife. And if he does not do these three things for her, she shall go out without debt, without payment of money.

      Whoever strikes a person mortally shall be put to death. If it was not premeditated, but came about by an act of God, then I will appoint for you a place to which the killer may flee. But if someone wilfully attacks and kills another by treachery, you shall take the killer from my altar for execution.

      Whoever strikes father or mother shall be put to death.

      Whoever kidnaps a person, whether that person has been sold or is still held in possession, shall be put to death. Whoever curses father or mother shall be put to death.

      When individuals quarrel and one strikes the other with a stone or fist so that the injured party, though not dead, is confined to bed, but recovers and walks around outside with the help of a staff, then the assailant shall be free of liability, except to pay for the loss of time, and to arrange for full recovery.

      When a slave-owner strikes a male or female slave with a rod and the slave dies immediately, the owner shall be punished. But if the slave survives for a day or two, there is no punishment; for the slave is the owner’s property. [Exodus, chapter 21]

      • Fred Mitchell

        What does the new testament say about the “old” testament? The answer is fundamentally important to one’s understanding of biblical truth. When the woman was caught in adultery, the people were going to stone her (Old Testament law). Christ did not enforce OT law but ushered in new commandments – dealing with the heart. “I do not condemn you, but go and sin no more.” The same response applies to homosexual behavior. It was punishable by death under OT law. With Christ, our hearts are supposed to be focused on Him, not ourselves. If we love Him, we will obey his commandments. Love others and refrain from sin, including sexual sin, i.e. homosexual behavior.

        • Fred, Fred, Fred…It’s interesting that you reference the “woman caught in adultery” story. Biblical scholars, through pain-staking cross-referencing, have known for quite some time that this story was not in the earliest bibles but rather was added to later versions by scribes. Just one example of the many stories that were added along the way. This isn’t the “Word Of God” but rather the “Word Of Man”. The bible was written by men. Men that believed the world was flat; that thunder meant God was angry; that dreams were “visions”. It is estimated that 97% of the population in 1st century Palestine were illiterate. You probably wouldn’t know that of course because you read the bible from a devotional standpoint, not from a historical standpoint. The bible is filled with errors, discrepancies, and flat-out fabrication as confirmed almost unanimously by biblical scholars. Yet Christians, 99.9% of which do not read biblical scholarship outside of the bible, are so quick to pick and choose what verses they want to believe and rationalize away those that are no longer relevant, and are also very quick to judge others who do not share in their beliefs (sorry for the run-on sentence). Be careful when you stand on your pedestal.
          It’s interesting when Christians dismiss the OT when it doesn’t suite them, but when it does, it’s also the “Word Of God”. What kind of God changes his mind? What kind of God is jealous? Demands to be worshiped? Allows so much suffering? The Jewish God and the Christian God are the same God…don’t forget that. Judaism serves as the foundation and gives credibility to Christianity.

    • The Bible was not meant to be understood by just any person. It is God’s decision that allows the text to come alive and be understood to those who are truly seeking Him and His truth. Education, intellect, fancy titles, pastors, etc. are irrelevant. God chooses those which the World considers simple and foolish.

      God chose men like Moses who could not speak well. David, a mere boy. John, a wild man that wore animal skin and ate locusts, etc., etc., etc.

    • The Bible was not meant to be understood by just any person. It is God’s decision that allows the text to come alive and be understood to those who are truly seeking Him and His truth. Education, intellect, fancy titles, pastors, etc. are irrelevant. God chooses those which the World considers simple and foolish.

      God chose men like Moses who could not speak well. David, a mere boy. John, a wild man that wore animal skin and ate locusts, etc., etc., etc.

  4. Jaydee Hanson

    I am glad that it looks like this case will not go to trial. Even if you consider homosexuality a sin, the church’s changing its policies toward divorce should give us some instruction. Up until 1960, the former Methodist Church forbid its ministers from marrying divorced people. As a divorced person who married a divorced person in a United Methodist Church, I am glad that the church changed its policy even though Jesus spoke harshly against divorce. As far as I know, no Methodist minister who ever tried for performing the marriage of a divorced couple. The church should not be trying clergy for marrying gays and lesbians either.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Comments with many links may be automatically held for moderation.