Is this how it usually works?

I e-mailed Rev. Randy Paige, one of the two complainants in the case of Rev. Thomas Ogletree. He sent me a copy of the statement previously released elsewhere and shared the following in his message:

We, the complainants, did not have any input into the resolution. We had sent Bishop Ives, at his request, our concerns, thoughts and what we would need in order to reach satisfactory agreement for a just resolution. That’s the language the BOD uses “satisfactory agreement” among both parties. But then it went behind closed doors and we were not privy to what was happening. The next thing we knew is that there was not going to be a trial, that a resolution was found and would be announced at the press conference. We heard it when it went public.

Below I’ve reproduced the statement Paige sent me.

If you have some time watch the video of the press conference announcing the result of the trial. It begins with the court secretary leading the audience at the press conference in a round of “This is the Day.” All the videos are here.

On the video, Ogletree remarked that it was clear to him from the beginning that the bishop and all the other church officials managing the case agreed with him that the church law was wrong.

I find I have zero context by which to evaluate this result. Is this pretty much the way most disciplinary cases get handled in our conferences? Or is this something different? I know we don’t have lots of trials on any issue. Do most of them get handled in this kind of fashion before trials ever emerge?

I will be interested to hear what Bishop McLee does at his annual conference session when it comes time to ask candidates for ordination whether they will uphold the Book of Discipline.

A STATEMENT OF THE COMPLAINANTS

10 March, 2014

We, the complainants in the case of the Rev. Dr. Thomas Ogletree, are dismayed by the settlement announced today in averting a trial for Dr. Ogletree’s violation of the Book of Discipline in performing a same-sex ceremony for his son.

The settlement agreed to is not, in our minds, a “just resolution” of our complaint. It makes no acknowledgement of the breaking of our clergy covenant, the clear teaching of Scripture, and our agreed upon way of discipleship expressed in our Book of Discipline. There are no consequences for such violation. It fails to recognize the harm done to our church members, who are seeking to live faithfully by teachings of the church for the last 2,000 years. And it fails to prevent further breaking of our covenant by other clergy in our annual conference.

We are disturbed that this settlement appears to represent a determination on the part of the New York Annual Conference leaders that they will no longer enforce or uphold the Discipline on this matter. While dialog and deep listening are good, they are no substitute for living up to the vows of obedience we took as United Methodist clergy, even when we disagree with the provisions we are asked to obey.

Bishop McLee’s commitment to have no more trials for those accused of performing same-sex services means that numerous complaints that are in process will be held in abeyance, and further complaints will be discouraged.

The impact of this settlement today will be that faithful United Methodists who support the church’s teachings will feel ignored and will face their own crisis of conscience, as to whether they can continue to support a church that will not abide by its own rules. In addition, clergy in the New York Annual Conference and other like-minded annual conferences, are now given a green light to disobey the Discipline and perform same-sex services at will, without any consequences. Far from avoiding schism, today’s settlement increases the probability that schism will take place. For all these reasons, we cannot support this settlement.

Rev. Dr. Randy Paige, Senior Pastor, Christ Church UM, Port Jefferson Station, New York
Rev. Roy E. Jacobsen, Retired

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6 thoughts on “Is this how it usually works?

  1. In my conference most discipinary issues are handled quietly. A pastor under charges is called in to talk with the bishop and/or district superintendent in order to discuss the matter. The bishop then decides whether or not to pressure the clergyperson to turn in his/her credentials, or to support the clergyperson who has been accused. Sometimes the bishop/district superintendent meets with an SPR committee to discern the situation.

    We have endured several scandals in the Florida Conference since I was admitted to the Florida Conference in 1979. Some involved embezzlement, and others involved adultery. Charges have even been filed against 2 district superintendents. I don’t recall ANY cases that needed to be dealt with by a trial. In a few situations the clergy session of annual conference voted to place someone on an involuntary leave.

    Trials are an option that allows an accused person to vent, and make a point. NOT going to trial is a wise decision, in this situation–it would have been destructive to the church. I DO think the Bishop should have asked for Rev. Ogletree’s clergy credentials, however.

  2. John, I commend you on asking these tough questions. We are loosing our sense of Holiness, that is what the Book of Discipline supports on these issues in my estimation. I have been celibate since coming to Christ in the UMC (over 22 years ago). not because this is what the Book of Discipline supports, but it’s what scripture teaches quite clearly. ,Sometimes I feel like we’re waving the white flag at the standard of holiness when stuff like this occurs. By and large, the koolaid RNM and its community and others in support of this thumbing of the nose for the sake of doing what they want, not what they are called to do smacks at the whole notion, redefining it where they can, ignoring it where they can’t. Thanks for standing on the principles of scripture. I’m proud of you. Where most feel the danger of being bullied by the other side of this debate, you stand strong! Good for you!

  3. Dear ChristianChurchInMiami–I’m thinking we protestants who are celibate for the sake of God’s kingdom and mission need to start speaking out and witnessing to the validity of singleness. Instead of being shamed into silence or accepting the label of being “weird”, shouldn’t we be saying, “sexual behavior is a CHOICE”? That is a prophetic witness our church and our world needs to hear. It is time to come out loud and proud as a celibate Christian.

    (Sorry for the digression, John)

  4. Holly, if there is shame now, for sure, we will be the stars come “the day”. We will have eternity to celebrate our choice. You are right though, maybe it’s time for is to “come out”

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