Troubles over homosexuality are continuing to cause division in the United Methodist Church. Bishop Elias Galvan, head of the Pacific-Northwest Conference, said yesterday that if Karen Dammann, an openly practicing homosexual, seeks a clergy appointment within the denomination, he would likely reappoint her.
Meeting in Pittsburgh this week during the United Methodist Church's General Conference, the Judicial Council, the supreme court of global Methodism, ruled Tuesday that individuals, found at church trial to be active homosexuals, may not be appointed to clergy positions within the denomination. The Book of Discipline says that the "practice of homosexuality is incompatible with Christian teaching." The court also noted, however, that it does not have the right to reverse or reexamine the findings of the Dammann church trial, saying, the prohibition "does not address the case of the Reverend Karen T. Dammann" and shall be applied only "prospectively."
In March, a Washington state church jury determined that Dammann, 47, is a "self-avowed, practicing homosexual" but declared that this practice did not violate the denomination's laws regarding homosexual practice.
Galvan said the second portion of the ruling applies only to future cases. "If I am rendering the decision correctly, she is appointable," Galvan said. "She is in good standing. Because she is in good standing, the Book of Discipline requires that she get an appointment," he said.
Conservatives and some bishops disagree. They warn that Galvan could have petitions brought against him if he appoints Dammann to lead a congregation.
"She was found to be a self-avowed, practicing homosexual by a jury," said Mark Tooley, director of UMAction, a renewal group. "She's not ...1
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