The United Methodist Church has formally charged another clergyman for presiding at the same-sex wedding of his son. The Rev. Thomas Ogletree will be tried March 10 for violating church law against officiating at gay unions, his spokeswoman, Dorothee Benz, announced Saturday.
It’s the second high-profile United Methodist trial in recent months over same-sex relationships. In December, pastor Frank Schaefer of central Pennsylvania was defrocked after he officiated at his son’s gay wedding.
The church considers homosexuality “incompatible with Christian teaching.”
Ogletree is a theologian, a former Yale Divinity School dean and a retired elder in the church’s New York district, or Annual Conference. Some clergy had filed a complaint after his son’s 2012 wedding announcement appeared in The New York Times.
Ogletree, 80, said he could not refuse his son’s request to preside at the wedding, which was held in New York, where gay marriage is legally recognised.
“It is a shame that the church is choosing to prosecute me for this act of love, which is entirely in keeping with my ordination vows to ‘seek peace, justice, and freedom for all people’ and with Methodism’s historic commitment to inclusive ministry embodied in its slogan ‘open hearts, open minds, open doors,’” Ogletree said in a statement.
He received notice of the trial in the mail Thursday, Benz said.
The United Methodist Church is the second-largest Protestant group in the U.S. and claims 12.5 million members worldwide.
Bishop Martin McLee, who leads the New York Annual Conference, asked for prayers for all involved and noted church procedures allow for a negotiated settlement even after a trial starts.
“It is my hope and prayer that a just resolution can be arrived at and a trial can be avoided,” McLee said in a statement.