Nine Pastors Face Discipline From Church For Attending Fellow Pastor’s Same-Sex Wedding (VIDEO)

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Nine pastors are facing expulsion from their church and a revocation of their credentials for openly supporting and participating in a fellow pastor’s gay marriage last Friday. Benjamin Hutchison, the pastor who was married, had just left the United Methodist Church in Cassopolis, Michigan, because he was told that if he didn’t resign, he would be fired. His fellow pastors are protesting not only his firing but the church’s rules that bar them from conducting same-sex ceremonies.

The community is outraged, too. Since Benjamin took over as Senior Pastor, the church’s membership has quadrupled, and everyone loves him there. He even helped the church overcome debt problems, making their operations profitable at a time when many churches are losing members and going bankrupt.

None of this mattered, though. The church has strict rules outlining its stance on gay employees, including pastors. While Benjamin knew of this practice when he first started, it never kept him from being open about who he was.  Everyone in the church knew he was gay for years. Why the church decided to fire him now may have to stem from the Supreme Court’s recent ruling legalizing gay marriage, and his desire to finally get married for himself.

While 30 pastors from United Methodist technically attended, only nine are being subjected to disciplinary action up to and including termination from the church. Apparently, if you attend the wedding in such a manner that makes you “an act of witness,” or physically sign the marriage certificate in the eyes of the church, this goes against church law.

Rev. Michael Tupper is one of the pastors who officiated the wedding, He is being very deliberate in his stance to directly challenge that internal law.

“I want to highlight the injustice, while at the same time show that God welcomes all people, whether they are gay or straight. It’s just another opportunity to celebrate and witness our inclusive God.”

Right now the church is at odds with its fellow pastors and is unwilling to change anything until the issue of gay membership is officially addressed at their next national meeting, held in May of next year. That’s a long time to straighten this out. In the meantime, nine pastors are subject to the court’s trial process and may very well lose their credentials to practice as pastors.

This isn’t the first time the church has tried to take away a pastor’s credentials for supporting gay marriage either, but it is certainly among the largest. Rev. Frank Schaefer lost his after officiating his son’s same-sex wedding. He did, however, appeal and receive it back on a technicality.

The sad thing is, no matter if they are punished or not, Benjamin is still without a job that he calls “the love of his life.” According to the church’s Book of Discipline:

The practice of homosexuality is incompatible with Christian teaching. Therefore, self-avowed practicing homosexuals are not to be certified as candidates, ordained as ministers, or appointed to serve in The United Methodist Chruch.

Church member Kevin Hershberger said that Hutchison was one of the main reasons he even went to the church.

This church was dying when he came here. They weren’t far from closing the doors. It was real close. He came in, worked on it, got people to come. He brought life back into that church.

After Hutchison was forced out the district superintendent had to hold an emotional meeting with 80 members of the congregation in an attempt to explain why they had to let him go. According to Hershberger, it wasn’t a great explanation:

“His message was, it’s in the Book of Discipline that we’ve got to open doors for everybody. We welcome everybody, apparently, except for the pastor.”

It’s admirable what Hutchison’s former pastors are doing. Rev. Tupper doesn’t think Jesus would approve, though. “Jesus spent a lot of time with folks who were excluded from their society and considered outsiders,” he said. “Right now our church is excluding folks like Hutchison. I want to be like Jesus and bring them in, welcoming them.”

At a time when a lot of religious members are refusing to marry gays in defiance of the law, it’s refreshing to learn that not everybody within the church agrees with their congregation’s practice. Even if that means they risk losing their job.

Watch here:

 

Reprinted with permission from Addicting Info