Good News statement regarding the Ogletree case

The Rev. Ogletree

The Rev. Ogletree

Good News is deeply disappointed in the settlement of charges against the Rev. Dr. Thomas Ogletree for performing a same-sex wedding. Essentially, Ogletree faces no consequences for his intentional act of clergy covenant-breaking. The outcome of this decision is an insult to the millions of faithful United Methodists around the globe who support and live by church teachings on human sexuality and marriage. Furthermore, it disrespects the General Conference and our process of holy conferencing.

We are particularly troubled by Bishop Martin McLee’s decision to cease holding any church trials for New York clergy accused of performing same-sex weddings. His unilateral decision eliminates any vestige of justice or accountability to the clergy covenant by New York clergy on this issue, where dozens have publicly admitted performing same-sex weddings contrary to church law. Bishop McLee’s commitment contravenes the promise made in 2012 by the Council of Bishops to uphold and enforce the Book of Discipline on this matter. His unilateral action calls into question the Council’s authority and ability to act as a unified body, undercutting its moral authority to discipline any United Methodist pastor. The decision not to hold trials, coupled with the settlement of the charges without any penalty, nullify the will of the General Conference. United Methodism’s stance has been reaffirmed by substantial margins at every General Conference since 1972.

Good News thanks the complainants, the Revs. Randall Paige and Roy Jacobsen, for their courageous attempt to maintain the church’s faithfulness to its doctrine and Discipline. They set an example for all of us to follow in their willingness to stand up publicly for biblical teaching. We cannot predict the future course of events, but when some parts of the church declare by their words and actions that they will no longer live by our agreed-upon way of discipleship, it puts the long-term viability of The United Methodist Church as a united body in grave jeopardy.

Good News has been a voice for orthodox theology and biblical ethics within The United Methodist Church since 1967. It is headquartered in The Woodlands, Texas.

Comments

  1. David Trawick says:

    Will the Council of Bishops make a statement regarding the disobedience of one of their own? The bishop has broken the covenant agreed to when he was made bishop, which included his promise to uphold and enforce the Discipline. He has broken covenant with this particular body of bishops, who renewed their agreement together in the face of church-wide threats of rebellion. He has broken covenant with the will of God in this matter as clearly revealed in Scripture. Will the Council of Bishops PLEASE speak out, speak clearly and biblical, and take appropriate legal action against this bishop? Sadly, I’m not holding my breath. But I am praying.

  2. Jody Anderson says:

    “Whoever says, “I have come to know him,” but does not obey His commandments, is a liar, and in such a person the truth does not exist….I John 2:4

    These are troubling times for our church but now is the time to “stand firm” on the word of the LORD while praying for all our church leaders to return to a true Wesleyan point of view.

  3. I agree with your statement in its entirety. However, great statements and tremendous responses to these horrible atrocities are no longer working for me. I’m to the point of despair. I’m searching for hope, any sign of hope. When will traditional, orthodox Methodists declare enough is enough? If there are things going on behind the scenes from Good News, the Confessing Movement, et al to finally bring this schism to an end, please give us a sign. I pray for our church daily. Most likely I would already be gone if I did not have tremendous respect, love, and loyalty for a number of traditional , orthodox ministers in our denomination who work so hard to preach The Gospel. Please, someone from the traditional, orthodox camp step up and give us at least a breath of encouragement so that we can hang on. Please help me, someone, to not bolt out of frustration and hopelessness.

  4. Carl Black says:

    For the UMC to continue, there must be some sort of cohesive agreement, be it vows or elected creed or Book of Discipline. What these blatant acts of disobedience and the complicity of certain bishops creates is open season on any aspect of the current UMC that anyone disagrees with. It is one thing to persistently push for change that you wish, but to suspend enforcement of what we have agreed to all abide by nullifies the essence of what makes us a denomination. So the question is, who really cares about what the United Methodist Church is and has stood for? It appears that those holding to traditional standards and structure are the remaining keepers of the denomination.

    • Carl,
      I am not an expert on UM church laws and/or protocols. However, in many governmental systems, when the leadership finds itself in opposition to their own party’s membership and principles, they resign their positions and call for a vote. If the bishops of the UM church possess any degree of integrity and devotion to their church, they will either firmly confront this unprecedented violation of church discipline or voluntarily resign their position in the church. To do anything less is a sad attempt to hold control over a divided denomination. However, as this schism begins to form, keep this clearly in mind: let those who do not or cannot live by scripture and the discipline of the UM church leave the church. Let them break the fellowship of believers, because they cannot or will not accept God’s word and the discipline of the UM tradition.

  5. I am offended and outraged by the actions of Bishop McLee, and I am especially embarrassed for scripturally faithful United Methodists.

    This was no “settlement” as the word suggests. Bishop McLee did not have the courage to invite the two original Complainants to be involved in the farce of a “settlement” because he had already predetermined the outcome and did not want the Truth to interfere in his game.

    It is also sad that most of our Bishops will choose to remain silent in their Episcopal Areas on this topic because of their tacit approval of this cowardly act. Will they file charges against their brother Bishop? Ha! That would require integrity, courage and fidelity to the Church (which they have pledged to uphold). Of course even if they did, a jury of peers in the Northeast jurisdiction will deliver a predictable result.

    If a conservative clergy was facing charges of violating provisions of the Discipline, you can bet that every jot and tittle of the book would be followed without question.

    General Conference has spoken 10 times on the issue of homosexuality, each time with greater clarity and firmness. Clergy and Bishops have pledged to uphold our Book of Discipline. If such renegade actions are allowed to stand, then General Conference and the Book of Discipline are worthless and should be trashed.

  6. Jay Ferguson says:

    We are very disappointed….are you serious? I’m sick of the passive aggressive way evangelicals moan and whine every time some liberal heretic uses their political power to advance their agenda in spite of Scripture and the Discipline. With hold money and split end this despicable farce called United Methodism. SOME ONE LEAD PLEASE. Many of our evangelical clergy have their heads in the sand. The Confessing Movement and Good News describing the problem. There are a lot of Asbury alumni around but they are not organized politically. I’m not sorry that the bishop acted despicably as he violated his ordination. I am angry. When will the rest of you get angry.

  7. preacherdb says:

    There no longer seems any possible way to keep the UMC in tact. Amicable separation should be the Christian response when such disunity is the HONEST not pretended assessment of the health of the denomination. All sides should now want to seek a just and responsible resolution at the 2016 GC to begin a process for a fair separation settlement that would include a sensible and fair division of all assets and would allow bishops, clergy, and congregations to openly and with integrity separate into the camps that conscience leads them. We can no longer continue to allow this infected wound to destroy the entire body. If possible final separation should occur at the 2020 GC. At the same time both camps should reconsider the role of apportionments, bishops, agencies, the appointive system, the role of seminaries,and guaranteed appointments. Almost everything needs to be reviewed with prayerful integrity and a moratorium on the words, “We have never done that before”.

  8. Eldon G. Nolte says:

    Unfortunately, culture is dictating the direction to take on moral issues including sexuality and same sex marriage instead of God’s Word, the Bible. The Bible is being disregarded and by passed when God speaks clearly where He stands on the issue of homosexuality and same sex marriage. In no way does He condone these two issues that are plaguing our society. God loves all persons, but He does not approve of the homosexual life style and same sex marriage.

  9. Three years ago, I decided to take the “walk” and have taken my money and my attendance to a conservative church.
    Why they are so “bent” on getting absolutely every same sex person through the church doors is beyond me!

  10. I am a member of the NYAC the evangelical ;(conservative and moderates are alone). We are toiling but pray that someone will step in to the gap..we have been silenced but need help from some of you out there. I am praying the the Bishops will step up, We are so alone. I am holding out for the Lord. Bless you all richly.

  11. Jon Lannom says:

    I have been following both the Rev. Ogletree and the Rev. McElvaney situations and wondering what actions their respective conferences would take. While Bishop McLee has obviously chosen to disregard the Book of Discipline and the guidelines of the General Conference, I still hold out hope that Bishop McKee of the North Texas Annual Conference will not take the same path as Bishop McLee.

    I have been a Methodist for almost 60 years, and have seen and experienced lots of changes over the years. I recall listening in on all the discussions back in the mid 60s regarding the formation of the UMC, and more recently all the discussions over the current state of affairs of the UMC – especially the activities before, during, and after our last G.C. which was held in Tampa.

    There are people who did not like the outcome of the G.C. as it related to their agendas and beliefs, and who have openly announced that they are going to disobey the Book of Discipline, along with the guidelines from the G.C. It seems that they are willing to destroy the UMC as we now know it in an effort to achieve their agenda, and force it upon others who don’t agree or believe as they do.

    I am currently a Scouting Ministry Specialist within the UMC and during these past two years I have seen pretty much the exact same happen in regards to the Boy Scouts of America. There was an activist group of individuals who did not agree with the BSA’s policies, so instead of leaving and forming their own group that was in line with their beliefs, they finally forced the National Board of the BSA to implement some changes that were more in line with theirs.

    The immediate reaction was for quite a few Scouts and adult leaders of the BSA to quit, Some of those folks formed their own organization that reflected the conservative principals that they believed in. At the same time there are still many traditionalist who stayed the course and are still members of the BSA. They said that now that the BSA has compromised with those activists, hopefully they will stop and leave us alone. Unfortunately for them “Round Two” has now started as they demand even more inclusion and adaptation of their agenda. In fact, Disney has just came out against supporting the BSA any longer until they fully accept the activist agenda.

    Now the BSA finds itself in a position of having driven off a core group of supporters because of acquiescing to the demands of one group – the same group that is now demanding even more inclusion of their activist agenda. So in fact the BSA has become “lukewarm” and we know what the Bible says about that – Revelation 3:16.

    Now I don’t share my longevity as a Methodist, nor my role as a UMC Scouting Ministry Specialist to impress you… only to impress upon you what I have personally seen and experienced. There are many of you who have replied to this article that think a splintering of the UMC is about to take place – or must take place. I can assure you that I hear that quite regularly from not only friends in my Annual Conference, but from UMC friends all over the country. And this talk is not just from the “conservative” members of the UMC, it is also from the “liberal” or “progressive” members of the UMC who did not achieve their agenda at the last G.C.

    Who knows where the UMC will be by the next General Conference, or even in a year from now – time will tell. I can only hope that the path we ultimately go down works out for all of us much better than what the Episcopal Church has experienced, and is still experiencing over similar issues.

  12. Re: a comment above: Please do not assume that all Asbury Alumni oppose either civil marriage equality or the blessing of same-sex unions by the church. I have an M.Div. and a D.Min. from Asbury and have been working for LGBT equality within the church for many years. Most of the Asbury grads I stay in touch with also support the move toward a more inclusive United Methodist Church.

    • Sandy Wylie says:

      Rick, I’m very glad to know this. This is largely a generational issue. Most folks who are under 35 or 40 don’t give a flip about their neighbors’ sexual orientation and certainly wouldn’t discriminate against them. The actuarial tables are settling this issue year by year. As younger pastors and members come into the church, the balance will tip. Unfortunately, it won’t tip as quickly as it has across the nation since last General Conference. I believe Good News is on the wrong side of history and the wrong side of the gospel. This train is going in only one direction, and in a decade or so everyone will wonder what all the fuss was about. We Christians should discard homophobia just as we did slavery, repression of women, and lots of other practices that are promoted by the Bible. Why have we adopted modern views about everything else but continue to cling to 3 verses in the New Testament that, if the writers were alive today, they most certainly wouldn’t write? Developmental psychology, modern medicine, and many other sciences have brought us many insights that the biblical writers would embrace along with the rest of us.

    • Well, Rick, for someone with a D.Min, you hold some pretty odd beliefs about “inclusion.”
      Haven’t you ever read that Jesus died for all mankind? (Mt 1:21), that no one is beyond His grace?
      (Jn 3:16), or that former homosexuals were part of the early Christian congregation? (1 Cor 6:11)
      The sexually broken are already “included.” You believe in another gospel if you think God wants them to stay that way rather than be conformed to His image.

    • I am glad to know this tidbit of information which saddens me deeply about the institution of Asbury Seminary. It WAS a great school when I graduated, but now find myself in a very difficult position in my relationship with this instituion.
      Obviously in my estimation, Asbury Seminary HAS FAILED its students and has become far more ‘inclusive’ than it should be….what happened to “Holiness Unto the Lord?”
      I feel so strongly about the gay agenda that I will NO LONGER support financially the seminary nor will I encourage any students looks for a seminary to attend there.
      Once upon a time it was the only viable option to the pathetic UM seminaries, but now seems there is not much different. I had great hopes for Tim Tennet as President, but alas it was apparently all for naught.
      Marantha!

      • Maybe I should clarify my remarks above. I received both of my degrees from Asbury Seminary while still professing a traditional, conservative view on homosexuality. I have grown in my understanding of LGBT persons and issues since leaving Asbury. Most of the friends I stay in touch with from Asbury have taken similar journeys as they have met and ministered to LGBT persons within their congregations, communities, and families. As far as I can tell, Asbury has remained mostly entrenched in conservative views on this topic, as demonstrated in articles in recent years by President Dr. Timothy Tennent and Dr. Ben Witherington. I have long since stopped contributing financially to Asbury for this reason.

  13. I just read the New York Times article on the dismissal of the case against Ogletree. A condition of the agreement was something about his promoting dialogue. He was quoted as saying something like people need to talk with one another more–obviously about the gay issue. However it has not been talk that has exacerbated the problem; rather it has been action–unilateral action. Again and again, petitions were initiated by the progressives to change the Discipline. Again and again, pastors have defied the Discipline by performing same-sex weddings. At least twice, bishops have broken covenant–first by performing a same-sex wedding in another bishop’s area and then by refusing to hold a trial. Why should the conservatives feel any sense of trust by agreeing to dialogue with a group that has unilaterally defied the church? Does Ogletree hope that conservatives will turn the crisis around by persuading the progressives that they are wrong? Or does he hope that the progressives will talk the conservatives into approving of their actions? Obviously, neither side is going to sit down to talks with those kinds of goals. Does he, rather, believe there is some compromise position? I cannot conceive of one. If conservatives agree to just ignore the defiance of the Discipline, then the Discipline in effect will have been changed–obviously a capitulation by the conservatives. What path could the progressives take that would be deemed compromise and not capitulation? I cannot conceive of one. There needs to be a serious proposal for a somewhat amicable split. I think the conservatives should be willing to be the ones who leave. This is the Christ-like action. We could dig our heels in with slogans like: “They’re the ones who have left the Discipline; they should leave.’ That is only going to create an ugly war of words. No, the conservatives should say, “We’ll step aside, we’ll take all the risks that entails.” There might be an agreement in which the UMC would sell church buildings for, say, 5% of the insured value. A careful dividing of the pension funds would have to be worked out. With true Christian love and prayerfully-sought wisdom, a new evangelical Methodist church can come into being. I believe it will leave behind a wreck that will not last long.

  14. Conservative elements within Christianity have been fighting various trends towards equality for centuries. All or essentially all of the more than 20,000 Christian denominations, sects, and faith groups now accept that slavery is immoral and that all humans should be free. Most have accepted equality for women. Some conservative groups still refuse to recognize the equality of persons of all sexual orientations And now transgender persons and transsexuals iare becoming the main battleground.

    My hope is that people of all Christian traditions will eventually recognize that race, gender, sexual orientation and gender identity are not chosen. They are all genetically determined and beyond one’s ability to change. My hope is that the wish “with liberty and justice for all” will be fully accepted.

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  1. […] doesn’t seem that anyone in charge really cares whether we do or not.  The recent ruling by Bishop McLee regarding Rev. Ogletree officiating a same-sex wedding seems to declare that there is no one at the helm of the USS UMC, certainly not the rulings of the […]

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