82 Retired Clergy Sign Covenant to Perform Same-Sex Marriages

July 23, 2013

*By the Revs. John Oda, Chair, Conference Committee on Reconciliation, and Don Fado, retired clergyperson

Eighty-two retired clergy of the California-Nevada Annual Conference have declared their willingness to perform same-sex marriage ceremonies in defiance of the United Methodist Church's Book of Discipline.

The 82 retired United Methodist clergy from Northern California and Northern Nevada signed a covenant which declares, "We must not deny ministerial services to anybody because of their sexual orientation." In addition, it states, "We will witness that United Methodists in California-Nevada Annual Conference do have open hearts, open minds, and open doors, and we will not tolerate the exclusion of gay, lesbian, bisexual, or transgendered people from our ministry."

The retired clergy announced their intentions in a press conference at Saint Mark's United Methodist Church Sacramento.

The Book of Discipline of the United Methodist Church states, "The United Methodist Church does not condone the practice of homosexuality and considers this practice incompatible with Christian teaching," and, "Ceremonies that celebrate homosexual unions shall not be conducted by our ministers and shall not be conducted in our churches."

This is not the first time clergypersons in the California-Nevada Conference have challenged the denomination's rules in regards to services for same gender couples. In 1999, charges were brought against 68 pastors for co-officiating at a holy union in Sacramento for a lesbian couple who had been together for 15 years, one was the annual conference lay leader, and one was on the conference board of trustees.  Most of the retired pastors who have signed the current covenant were part of the 1999 holy union. 

The 82 signers of the covenant include former leaders of the annual conference. Fifteen have served as district superintendents and 11 have been delegates to General Conference.

For a full list of the retired clergy who signed the covenant, click here. 

*Fado is the founding co-chair of the Reconciling Ministries Clergy of the United Methodist Church

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