Following up on my post regarding liberal rule-breaking in the United Methodist Church, I have to note that the denomination has an opportunity to demonstrate that it takes its Book of Discipline, and the standards for clergy that it embodies, seriously. A Wisconsin Annual Conference pastor, Amy DeLong, went on trial today for violating the provisions prohibiting conducting same sex union ceremonies and homosexual behavior on the part of clergy. According to the United Methodist News Service:
For the seventh time in 20 years, The United Methodist Church will wrestle with the issue of homosexuality in a public church trial.
The Rev. Amy DeLong, a lesbian clergy member of the Wisconsin Annual (regional) Conference, faces two charges of violating church law and the possibility of losing her ministerial credentials this week. Her trial begins June 21 at Peace United Methodist Church in Kaukauna, Wis.
DeLong, who has been an ordained clergywoman for 14 years and now serves as director of an education and advocacy group, initiated the case in 2009 when she officiated at the union of a lesbian couple. That same year, she and her partner of nearly 16 years registered under Wisconsin’s domestic partnership law. She reported both actions to the Wisconsin Conference.
I appreciate her candor, and the fact that she reported her actions to the annual conference. In doing so, she has forced the issue, which is not whether she violated the Discipline (she did), but whether the church will enforce its order. The UMC actually has a pretty good record in that regard, but the last time a case of this sort came along was 2005. Here’s praying that things have not changed much in the intervening years.