UMC Pastor Ready for Trial Over Officiating Gay Wedding
A complaint filed against a Michigan United Methodist Church pastor who officiated a same-sex wedding might lead to a trial.
The Rev. Michael Tupper, pastor of Parchment UMC, knowingly violated the denomination's Book of Discipline which forbids clergy from performing gay weddings.
During an interview with The Christian Post, Tupper said he participated in the gay marriage ceremony in order "to bring light to the harm done by the United Methodist Church to LGBTQ people."
"I believe that people can have different opinions in the United Methodist Church about these issues. Our denomination is a 'big tent' where we can agree to disagree about many things," he added.
"I hope that we can end the war over this so we can get back to 'making disciples for Jesus Christ for the transformation of the world.'"
In addition to barring clergy from performing gay marriages, the Book of Discipline also prohibits clergy who identify as gay from marrying a same-sex partner or engaging in sexual activities. Similarly, unmarried heterosexual clergy are also expected to remain celibate.
In July, Tupper was among nine clergy who helped officiate the same-sex wedding of Benjamin David Hutchison, a former UMC clergy, who resigned because he was in a same-sex relationship.
Subsequently, Tupper rejected the Mainline denomination's attempt to reach a "just resolution" last month that would have resolved the complaint against him without it going to a Church trial.
"The bishop [Deborah Lieder Kiesey] has referred this matter to a Consul for the Church. This person acts like a prosecutor in the secular courts. The bishop has selected Rev. Elbert Dulworth to be this consul," Tupper told CP.
"Rev. Dulworth will be gathering the evidence against me and presenting that to our Conference Committee on Investigation. This Committee will meet to decide whether to send this matter on to trial. I am pleading guilty. I am also not using any attorneys. Therefore, the process should move along quickly."
Tupper is one of several United Methodist clergy who have garnered national headlines for their refusal to adhere to the Book of Discipline's stated positions on homosexuality.
The debate over the language of the denomination's rule book is expected to continue at next year's UMC General Conference in Portland, Oregon.
Mark Tooley, president of the Institute on Religion & Democracy, told CP that rather than being a hero Tupper's actions showed a "lack of integrity."
"We believe that Tupper shows a lack of integrity by his willful, repeated violation of United Methodist standards, despite his vows to uphold them," said Tooley.
"If he cannot uphold his ordination vows, his ministerial credentials should be withdrawn, and he should find employment with an institution that he can support."