Ogletree case dismissed; complainants speak out

The Rev. Ogletree

The Rev. Ogletree

Bishop Martin McLee of New York and retired Bishop S. Clifton Ives announced at a press conference on March 10 that the trial of the Rev. Dr. Thomas Ogletree for performing a same sex wedding was being dismissed in favor of a settlement negotiated by the counsel for the church.

Ogletree, a retired United Methodist clergyperson from New York, presided over a same-sex wedding ceremony for his son in October 2012. In response to the announcement of the ceremony in The New York Times, two fellow clergypersons from New York filed charges against Ogletree. Performing same-sex unions are explicitly prohibited by The United Methodist Church around the globe. The Rev. Randall C. Paige, pastor of Christ Church in Port Jefferson Station, and the Rev. Roy Jacobson, a retired clergyperson from New York, were the ones who filed the charges.

In a released press statement, the Revs. Paige and Jacobson said they “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.”

In their statement, Paige and Jacobson declared: “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.”

Paige and Jacobson’s statement continues: “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 complainants’ statement concludes: “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.”

— Good News Media Service


  1. Greg Van Dussen says

    This is a sad day, one that pushes us closer to what may now be inevitable – a division of some kind in the UMC. It is more and more clear that the denominational status quo is untenable.

  2. There are no words to describe this.

    1. Do Paige and Jacobson have any recourse? Appeal?
    2. What exactly did the council for the church do in the interest of the church?

  3. Pat Glazener-Cooney says

    Seems to me that the United Methodist Church is neither united nor Methodist!!!!!! In fact if God’s Word is to be believed the UMC as a Christian Church may be suspect!!!! It seems that my decision after 26 years to surrender my orders and after 41 years to leave the united Methodist church was the right thing to do. It is no wonder that the umc in America is on it’s way out. How very sad!

  4. It is with a heavy heart I’m led to believe that the die has been cast and the pattern set. Emboldened by capitulation or support from those adhering to socially acceptable doctrine, more and more bishops, ministers and lay people will challenge the UM position on same-sex weddings, same-sex clergy, etc. The only two questions remaining to be clarified are: 1) When do the UM discipline adherents declare that the bond has been irrevocably broken? 2) Do the adherents leave as a group or do they filter away to various other strains of Methodism? I trust that those who remain will believe that what has been gained is indeed worth what has been lost. God’s grace will always suffice for the faithful.

  5. It’s unclear to me whether Paige and Jacobson were present (or permitted to be present) during the negotiations over settlement, and if so, whether they were given opportunity to be heard before final action was taken.

    Unless I’m misreading Para. 2701.1.a and b, their rights as complainants do not end when Counsel for the Church is selected.

    • Paige and Jacobson were invited to submit a written statement, which they did. They were not invited to be present during any negotiations that took place. So in one sense, they were given the opportunity to be heard. But they were certainly not party to the settlement, therefore, they do not consider it a “just resolution” of their complaint.

    • They were not present at the final action. They were not included and the counsel was more of a Kangaroo court,

  6. Sad that we define love by which way the cultural wind is blowing instead of letting God define love for us. None of us is without sin. None of us is worthy of God. None of us will understand the depth of His love until we understand God died on that cross in-spite of our sin. JESUS has overcome both sin and the grave.

    From Jesus, Matthew 19:25-26, “25When the disciples heard this, they were greatly astonished and asked, ‘Who then can be saved?’ 26Jesus looked at them and said, ‘With man this is impossible, but with God all things are possible.’”

    My question is will God save us from the sin that we celebrate in our hearts and proclaim is a gift from God, even though his Word says in 1 Cor 6:9-11 no wrongdoers, including the well defined sexually immoral, will enter His kingdom? Can we refuse to repent and mock God’s laws and still be forgiven?

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