Bishop Laurie Hall, UMNS

Bishop Laurie Haller, UMNS

By Walter Fenton-

On February 15, Bishop Laurie Haller of the Iowa Episcopal Area confirmed that a church trial had been averted regarding a complaint filed against Bishop Julius Trimble of the Indiana Episcopal Area.

The complaint stemmed from Trimble’s handling of a complaint filed against the Rev. Anna Blaedel, a campus minister at the University of Iowa Wesley Center, who announced on the floor of the 2016 Iowa Annual Conference, “I am a self-avowed practicing homosexual. Or in my language, I am out, queer, partnered, clergy.” Trimble, at the time, was the presiding bishop of the Iowa Episcopal Area and therefore the presiding officer at the time of Blaedel’s announcement.

As intended, Blaedel’s candid announcement stirred controversy. LGBTQ+ advocates were heartened by her willingness to put her clergy credentials at risk. And supporters of the church’s sexual ethics and long held teachings on marriage were stunned by her open admission.

But perhaps as surprising was Trimble’s response, or lack thereof. Having granted Blaedel the moment of personal privilege, he offered no rebuttal to her open admission. Shortly after her address, three clergy members filed a complaint against her.

In the weeks after the conference, Trimble engaged the parties in an attempt to avoid a church trial and reach a just resolution. But given “Blaedel’s open admission of violating church law there were really only two paths to a just resolution: a complete retraction of her statement or her voluntary resignation. Neither materialized.

The Rev. Anna Blaedel: "I am a self-avowed practicing homosexual."

The Rev. Anna Blaedel: “I am a self-avowed practicing homosexual.”

But instead of pursuing the matter, on the second to last day of his tenure, Trimble informed the complainants and Blaedel that he was dismissing the case entirely without comment. In response, 17 lay and clergy members of the Iowa Annual Conference filed a complaint against him for failing to fulfill the duties of his episcopal office.

As part of the just resolution, Trimble has acknowledged in an open letter to Iowa Annual Conference delegates, “that my presiding of Annual Conference in June 2016 could have been more helpful to the body had I made a pastoral statement rather than move on to the next order of business following granting a point of personal privilege to Rev. Anna Blaedel.”

Trimble goes on to write, “I should have articulated a clear process for follow-up regardless of the outcome of the complaint process. For any harm that my leadership may have caused lay and clergy in the Iowa Conference, I ask for your forgiveness.”

As for Blaedel, she continues to preside as the campus minister at the University of Iowa Wesley Center, where the people of the Iowa Annual Conference continue to fund much of her salary.

Iowa United Methodists now wait to see how Bishop Laurie Haller will handle Blaedel’s situation. See the above article for a potential outcome.

Walter Fenton is a United Methodist clergy person and an analyst for Good News.


  1. This is not a just resolution! This is one Bishop trying to clean up another Bishop’s mess that they have inherited due to a lack of spiritual fortitude and upholding scriptural authority on sexuality.

  2. It is embarrassing to be called a United Methodist in light of this continued mocking of the church by its “leaders”. There is no defense of these “just resolutions” by anyone on either side of this conflict who has an ounce of integrity or honor. Shameful. A separation is obviously the only final solution. The new commission needs to address this reality an go to work on putting together a separation proposal for the special General Conference. Anything short of that will fail.

  3. How unchristian to use discrimination to censure an ordained clergy person. Must we always retreat to times past? What will the UMC do next discriminate against our African American sisters and brothers. What does ones ethnicity, country of origin, or sexual orientation have to do with one’s competence in one’s profession.
    Is your doctor gay or lesbian, or maybe bisexual? You really do not know, do you? Is that competent, caring nurse who cared for you when you had your surgery LBGT? You really do not know.
    Come on UMC this is the 21st century, where we no longer believe that seizures are caused by demons possessing our souls. We no longer believe that the Sun revolves around the Earth. Many scriptural texts are no longer relevant, and the fact that it is a sin to be LBGT is no longer a sin, either.

  4. 2 Timothy 4:3-4. Notice the.”the time will come” which includes now. .

  5. There is a huge difference in the rationale of choosing to accept someone’s alternative lifestyle when they are a physician, nurse, church organist, choir director, plumber, etc. as opposed to when they are the church minister or bishop. A minister or bishop are chosen to spiritually “lead the flock.” They are in no sense qualified to do this when they are living daily ives that run contrary to the Bible’s teachings. I would also say the same thing about having divorced and remarried pastors in the pulpit, unless there was clear evidence that he/she was an innocent party in the prior marriage.

  6. Dear Carla and Bob,

    Thank you. You confirm the need and necessity to get on with separation as soon as possible. Again, thank you.

  7. So by your definition that homosexuality is factually no longer sinful behavior, God has changed to the benefit of man: how did you come to this conclusion? According to the scriptures the reason God had to send His son to intercede on mans behalf is because God himself does not change. Therefore by your reasoning God does indeed change so there really was no need for Christ. If God’s will bends to that of a man, then a Messiah was not necessary. You’re reasoning undercuts the whole basis for Christianity.

  8. God is the same yesterday, today and forever. His Word dies not change. He said do not add to nor take away from it. We can not change it to suit our sins. Our drs and nurses are not our spiritual leaders so bad analogy there. No one living in any open unrepentant sin should be allowed to preach or teach in any church. Jesus died for all of these sins so if we want to see Him one day we better repent, turn from our sins and trust Him.

  9. This is not a matter of “discrimination” but rather scriptural integrity. Just because the practice of homosexuality is accepted by some in society does not mean it is ordained or approved of by God. Our beliefs as stated in the Book of Discipline say that we do not find this practice compatible with Christian teachings. It is not the person but rather the practice or behavior that we do not believe is in God’s plan for any human. If you and others can not agree on that point then we will have to agree to disagree. Also, if anyone in the UMC does not follow our rules of doctrine and practice then they need to find a church that does rather than continue to cause chaos in this church. You can accept a person and love a person and yet not approve of their behavior.

  10. This is not what the majority of delegates at the last General Conference intended when they asked the bishops for help. It seems clear that the bishops lack the resolve to hold themselves or their clergy to the rule of our discipline. I hope that the Council of Bishops will come to a quick decision and return this issue to the General Conference delegates so they can fix the problem. I am beyond disappointed. I do not have confidence in our system or our bishops in regard to this essential matter.

  11. Dear Carla and Bob,
    I assumed to took the vows of the United Methodist Church?
    If not, you are without fault.
    If you did, you are without honor.

  12. The Bishops of the North Central Jurisdiction, with the possible exception of Bishop Beard have demonstrated by word and deed that they will not hold each other or errant clergy accountable. I see a split as more and more inevitable, and I believe our current Bishops will be surprised by how few churches want to remain in connection with them. How will it be possible to trust them in the future?

    In Christ,

    The enemy hates clarity

  13. Dear Skidmores, I realize you have good intentions I believe. But our Lord never changes. Morality for our century is the same as the apostles time. God loves people but hates sin. Isaac I have loved Esau I have hated. God waited until the sin of a nation reaches a certain fixed level then he punishes that nation. Where did God ever say those sins that keep us out of the Kingdom have ever changed? What has changed is now we can repent , confess, and change our actions because we have an extremely loving God. Our Savior went to the cross, arose from the dead, told us to make disciples of all nations, Now no longer through repentance of sins and the new birth are we hopelessly lost. we have a Savior. Jesus sent the Holy Spirit to guide us in all truth and power to live up to Christ’s standards of righteousness. That is grace. The perversion of all grace is to do and make up our own new rules for righteousness. That happened in the time of the judges when every man did what was right in his own eyes. Not what was right in the eyes of our dear loving Heavenly Father and his only begotten son Jesus.

  14. Are there any other scriptures concerning sin that are no longer relevant?

  15. 2Ti 4:3 For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine; but after their own lusts shall they heap to themselves teachers, having itching ears;
    2Ti 4:4 And they shall turn away their ears from the truth, and shall be turned unto fables.

  16. Will we follow or will we lead. If WE lead, it will be in a human faulty direction.

    Contemporary English Version published by Abingdon.

    2Th 2:3 But don’t be fooled! People will rebel against God. Then before the Lord returns, the wicked one who is doomed to be destroyed will appear.
    2Th 2:4 He will brag and oppose everything that is holy or sacred. He will even sit in God’s temple and claim to be God.
    2Th 2:5 Don’t you remember that I told you this while I was still with you?
    2Th 2:6 You already know what is holding this wicked one back until it is time for him to come.
    2Th 2:7 His mysterious power is already at work, but someone is holding him back. And the wicked one won’t appear until that someone is out of the way.

  17. “For All flesh is like grass, and all its glory like a flower of the grass. The grass withers, and the flower falls, but the word of the Lord endures forever. And this is the word that was preached as the gospel to you. “. 1 Peter 1:24

    “For truly I tell you, until heaven and earth disappear, not the smallest letter, not the least stroke of a pen, will by any means disappear from the Law until everything is accomplished.”
    ‭‭Matthew‬ ‭5:18‬ ‭NIV‬‬

    The problem you seem to have is that you think culture defines right and wrong and not God. There is an unchanging standard for right and wrong and It is not culture

  18. I don’t see how this continual fighting over this stupid issue is going to bring Gods Kingdom to fruition. I get sick of both sides foisting their views on people like me. I guess I take Jesus seriously. He ate with prostitutes and shady government agents. He worked with clean and unclean people and he saved his greatest vitriol for those in power. Look if you don’t want to worship with Gays, people of color, or the poor put it on your door or sign. Lots of congregations do. That way we can pass by and go to the Church in town that will welcome us. That is all just put it on the door or sign as who is not welcomed and we can move on with it. I don’t want to be a member of a UMC congregation that discriminates regardless of the moral justification of it. I don’t want my kids around people like that and I don’t want be around people like that period. So lets just all be clear, and honest but lets mind our own congregations.

  19. Donna, I conclude, and happily so, that you know that the time has come for the UMC to accept, in full inclusion, our LBGTQAI sisters and brothers.
    Until then I hope that the more conservative members among us will adopt a Big Tent Methodism, so that those who still believe that our LBGTQAI loved ones, and friends be allowed to be members but not marry the person they love in a UMC or even think to apply for ordination upon seminary graduation. thus their churches would be pastored by only straight clergy who will not perform marriages for same gender couples. However, those of us who have no issue with marriage equality, the law of the land, and no issue with having a pastor or bishop who is LBGTQAI be allowed to also part of the UMC.
    If a Big Tent Methodism is not adopted, then schism is the only option.
    From what I read at Good News, the more conservative among us want us to change our more progressive views.
    I am perfectly happy if some care to feel as they do, but the more conservative UMC officials seem to feel that it has to be “their way or the highway.”

  20. So, if the divorced clergy was “at fault” and that “fault:” you could not forgive them for and allow them to “go and sin no more?” Because, Edward, that is what you want our LBGTQAI sisters and brothers to do, in order to be ordained. Frankly, someone who is LBGTQAI cannot change, as that is how they were born and that is how they will always be. If someone, whom you knew, did “change” then they were never LBGTQA.

  21. Ken, I did not say that God changed, it is our knowledge of what was said by people many centuries ago. God did not “write the Bible,” men wrote the Bible, both the Hebrew Scriptures and the NT and they interpreted what they felt God would have said, given the knowledge that was available at that time. Thus, they thought that Jesus had to “cast out the demons” of the man having a seizure. We now know, that it is misfiring of the brain that causes seizures. In Biblical times, in the Hebrew Scriptures, it was thought that the Sun revolved around the Earth, thus Joshua “won that battle at Jericho.”
    We now know that being LBGTQAI is a matter of one’s birth and it is not a chosen state. As years go by we are always learning new information and we must revel and rejoice in our new knowledge, not eschew it.

  22. The BoD was written by man and has been rewritten and changed over the years. It will be rewritten and changed again, and soon, I sincerely hope.

  23. Yes. LLP, it was sinful to consume shell fish or pork. It was sinful to wear clothing of different fabrics, or threads. Every church has their own ideas regarding “sin.” In the Eastern Orthodox Church it is sinful to consume meat or eggs during Lent. In the RC Church one only eats mean once on Wednesday and not at all on Friday, during Lent. Protestants, in most traditions do not abide by these rules or consider them to be sins if one deviates from said rules.

  24. Why then is that other mainline churches disagree? Do the members of the UCC Church, or Episcopal Church, or American Baptist (not So. Baptist) or the more liberal branches of the Presbyterian Church accept our LBGTQAI sisters and brothers in full inclusion. Do they love God Less. It is only the UMCs that are in full conformity and the evangelical, right wing churches that think as the “in conformity UMCs.” There six conferences in the UMC that are in “Non Conformity.” They accept LBGTQAI pastors, and Bishops. Their pastors are free to marry same gender couples. As time goes by more and more Annual Conferences will become “Non Conforming.” It is only a matter of time.

  25. William, you may be right, or the UMC and the our more conservative brothers and sisters could adopt a Big Tent Methodism. That could be the answer rather than schism.

  26. Eric, Jesus did, indeed, serve the unclean. He did not, however, tell them it was OK to remain that way. Your references to people of color and the poor illustrate your desire to demonize those who don’t think like you, but it doesn’t work because there is no sin in skin color or economic condition. If your congregation, like mine, welcomes gays, adulterers, liars, thieves and tells them God loves them, then congratulations. But if you then tell them that their lifestyle is just fine and to keep it up, you are an enabler, not a church. I am a sinner and God loves me just as I am, but he definitely does not want me to stay this way. One huge difference between Wesleyan beliefs and most everyone else is this striving toward Christian Perfection. No one says you have to believe in this, but if you don’t maybe a church founded by John Wesley isn’t the place to be.

  27. At the risk of being both reactionary and hopelessly out of touch with reality I would suggest that we are so wrapped up with peripherals that we have ignored the central message of the Gospels . We are called by Jesus to love one another, to serve one another, and to love God.. My simple suggestion is to go back to (fundamentals) and if that means papering over our differences, so be it.


  29. To licensed local pastor, yes, several modified by Jesus:

    Keep Sannath Holy. Jesus said ok to help a friend whose ox falls into a hole on Sabbath

    Eating unclean food….Jesus said that it is not what goes into our mouths which makes us unclean, instead it is what comes out of our mouth that makes us unclean.

    Man laying with another man….not modified by Jesus, unless someone can cite the passage.

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