Dammann Trial Adjourns with Seven Hours of Testimonies

Controversial trial continues in the United Methodist Church

SEATTLE, Wash. -- The trial of the openly gay Rev. Karen Dammann adjourned on Thursday, March 18, with seven hours of testimonies made by nine witnesses for the defense and a single witness for the prosecution.

The witnesses for the defense belabored upon the good "ministering" qualities of Dammann, even though she is on trial not because of her ministerial skill or lack thereof, but because she broke the church law mandating that all ordained United Methodist clergy remain pure by not performing homosexual acts. Dammann blatantly broke this law by living with a female lesbian for 9 years, and performing sexual acts with her.

The first witness for defense was the Rev. Ron Hines, the District Superintendent and Dammann’s immediate supervisor.

He began by saying that Dammann was good at ministering to her chuch because she was "a good time manager … and had a positive outlook.”

When asked how the 250-member Ellensburg church where Dammann pastored received her, Hines admitted that there were “anxieties” and that “families left the parish.”

He went on to Dammann’s defense by claiming that “the rest were transformed through her own presence… and her ministry," saying that "It wasn’t about being a lesbian; it’s about being in ministry."

However, during the cross examination, the church counsel questioned whether her pastoral gifts were the issue on trial.

On Wednesday, the defense spoke on behalf of the church, reminding the jury to look clearly at what is on trial.

"It is not the law of the church on trial today," said Rev. James Finkbeiner. "Your job is to find her guilty or innocent (under present law). It is as simple as that."

The next witness for defense was the retired bishop of Los Angeles Jack Tuell.

Tuell centered his argument on the validity of the current church law that prohibits practicing homosexuals from serving as clergy. The current church law states that homosexuality is a lifestyle that is “incompatible with Christian teaching.”

As Tuell took the stand, he criticized church law, saying that "there are grave questions of whether the discipline is sufficently clear," focusing once again, not on the issue at trial.

“The church has never declared homosexuality to be incompatible with Christian teaching," said Tuell, even though that law against homosexuality was established since the time the word "christian" was coined.

The last witness called was on the side of the prosecution. The Rev. Pat Simpson, clergy member of the Pacific Northwest Conference’s committee that investigated the original charges against Dammann, was asked to outline the sequence of the committee’s action.

Simpson testified that after a long and difficult deliberation, the committee decided in a 5-2 split to call for a trial for Dammann.

After presiding Bishop William Grove read a passage from Paul’s letter to the Romans – “Hold fast to what is good; love one another, serve the Lord….” the trial was adjourned.

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