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