Recently Read: Alex church torn apart by gay issue

Alex_in_umcDavid Steele was the SPRC chair of the Alexandria, IN United Methodist Church, and got caught up in a controversy with the pastor of the church over the firing and desired rehiring of a beloved choir director, who happened to be gay. The controversy led to Steele being “fired” from his position, first by the interim pastor, and then by the district superintendent:

The next day Mantor asked for David Steele’s keys, saying he could no longer serve, but David refused to quit. Three weeks later, the district superintendent met with the church leaders and relieved David Steele of his duties. Steele said the district superintendent told him he was no longer supporting the positions of the minister and therefore was neglecting his duty.

via Alex church torn apart by gay issue » Local News » The Herald Bulletin.

The secular press is focusing primarily on the sexual orientation of the choir director in the decision about hiring and firing, but this situation also raises the question of how congregations deal with conflict, and the propriety and process of removing a duly elected church leader without some form of due process. The Book of Discipline and a subsequent Judicial Council ruling seem to leave decisions about membership status up to the presiding pastor, but what does that mean when the discernment of the congregation differs with the pastor?

As an aside, the church’s website lists the SPRC position as open, but also continues to list Mr. Steele as the lay leader.

Click here to read the full story.

Recently Read

Recently Read

Recently Read posts are stories the editors of The United Methodist Reporter have found interesting from other sites and wanted to share with our readers. The editors do not necessarily endorse the opinions shared in these stories, and referral here should not imply endorsement of that content.

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35 Comments on "Recently Read: Alex church torn apart by gay issue"

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The United Methodist Reporter wants to encourage lively conversation about The United Methodist Church and our articles in the belief that Christian conversation (what Wesley would call conferencing) is a means of grace. While we support passionate debate, we cannot allow language that demeans or demonizes others, and we reserve the right to delete any comment we believe to be harmful or inappropriate. We encourage all to remember that we are all broken and in need of Christ's grace, and that we all see through the glass darkly until that time we when reach full perfection in love. May your speech here be tempered with love, and reflection of the fruits of love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control. After all, "There is no law against things like this." (Galatians 5:22-23)
 
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Jay
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One further clarification: I have absolutely no doubt that God loves me. (I don’t understand where you could have gotten than impression.) I rather suspect that God is not pleased with people who foster hatred and who value the law above the Great Commandment.

Jay
Guest

Wes Andrews, I have no objection to anything you say in your last post (though I suspect you really want to say or imply something other than what you actually say). What I object to is the lie in the Book of Discipline that says that homosexuality is incompatible with Christianity. That is not only false, it is also contrary to Scripture. I cannot be in connection with people who believe such pernicious nonsense that causes incredible damage in the world and leads to discrimination and to depression and sometimes to bullying and suicide.

Jay
Guest
Wes Andrews, I though about you when I read this story about a Shreveport, La. Councilman who opposed a fairness ordinance and was confronted by a transgender woman who quoted the Bible to him. “A City Council member in Shreveport, La., has abandoned his effort to repeal an LGBT-inclusive antidiscrimination ordinance, following outcry from the public, including a transgender woman who dared him to stone her to death. The council passed the ordinance in December by a vote of 6-1, following a successful campaign by a pro-LGBT coaltion known as Be Fair Shreveport. The ordinance, which bans discrimination in housing… Read more »
Wes Andrews
Guest
Jay, Scripture is truly filled with grace and love I wish you could see this. Grace and love are NOT rewards for those who fit perfectly into God’s design. They exist as gifts to all of us. We all “fall short”. No one earns God’s love. It is a gift. Everyone is in the same boat. That is the reason everyone is welcome to come, seek and worship in our churches. We have all separated ourselves from God in one way or another. Homosexuals are not “worse” that heterosexuals. I don’t agree the attitude of the man in Shreveport. But… Read more »
Wes Andrews
Guest

Nope. I would have stood for anti-discrimination.

Jay
Guest

Wes Andrews, polygamy is certainly more “traditional” and “Biblical” than one-man-one-woman marriage, but I don’t believe in it. I think it too often leads to various kinds of abuse and exploitation. But here’s a question for you. Do you enjoy cherry-picking the Bible, or do you believe in everything in the Bible since you are so proud of “standing with Scripture”? Do you believe the sun revolves around the earth? Do you approve of slavery? Do you believe women should be silent in church? Do you believe in divorce? Do you believe in stoning children who sass their parents?

Wes Andrews
Guest

Thanks, Jay, for answering my question. Okay, so I’m curious. What source of truth would you use to decide what is acceptable and what is not acceptable? This is not a “debating” question. I am honestly curious.

Jay
Guest

Wes Andrews, why don’t you answer my question? I answered yours. I suspect you won’t my question because you just pick the passages you like in the Bible and ignore the ones that you don’t like.

Wes Andrews
Guest
Jay, I’m more than glad to answer your questions. I would not agree with your assessment that I “cherry-pick”, I would suggest that the pro-gay marriage/ordination supports actually do this. The Bible is NOT pro-slavery. In fact, it was Jesus followers who have found around the world for the abolition of slavery and human trafficking. Why, because the Bible is clear about the justice of treating all people as having sacred worth. The Bible does not teach that the earth is the center of the universe. I’m not sure why you keep mentioning this, other than the RCs punishing Galileo… Read more »
Wes Andrews
Guest
Jay, I was under the impression that you wanted to have a civil conversation, and that you were honestly curious about my thought process. It appears that you are really not interested in civility or conversation. I answered your questions in good faith, and you just go back to your talking points. In essence you have asked me about my math theory . I say, “1 + 1 = 2, just like it has always added up!”, and you essentially say, “NO! NO! you are cherry-picking your answers… 1 + 1 can mean anything we want it to mean, and… Read more »
Jay
Guest

IN other words, Wes Andrews, you cherry-pick the Scriptures you stand with. You really, really, really like Paul’s apparent (depending on translation and interpretation) condemnation of homosexuality, but you don’t like his injunction for women to keep quiet in church quite so much. You explain away the approval of slavery and the injunction to murder children because you don’t like such institutions. Yeah, you stand with Scripture, all right. You stand with the Scripture you like and ignore the passages you don’t.

Wes Andrews
Guest
Yikes, I need to triple proof read my posts: 1st Paragraph: “, I would suggest that the pro-gay marriage/ordination supporters* actually do this…” (cherry-pick) 2nd Paragraph: “Jesus followers have fought* around the world for the abolition of slavery….” 4th Paragraph: “It’s interesting to note* that in the same letter…” BTW, in regard to Divorce… I think the Roman Catholic Church has probably treated Marriage and Divorce with the honor and respect it deserves. The RC really doesn’t recognize “secular” marriage. Some have thought this harsh, but the point is that a life long commitment needs the support of a loving… Read more »
Jay
Guest
Wes Andrews, you are not standing with Scripture. You are standing with your cherry-picked interpretation of Scripture. Were you standing with Scripture, you would be consistent and insist that the BOD forbid divorce, the accumulation of wealth, the teaching that the earth revolves around the sun, the proper etiquette of slaves dealing with their owners, etc. You have decided that some highly suspect passages that have been interpreted as having something to do with sexual relations between members of the same sex are more important than the messages of love and acceptance that are central to Jesus’s mission. I don’t… Read more »
Wes Andrews
Guest
Jay, no significant percentage of Jesus followers who trust Scripture fit your description at all. I wouldn’t attend a church that teaches what you describe. No UMs fit that description. And if you think that is what honoring the authority of Scripture looks like then you don’t really understand Scripture or the people who trust Scripture. I, in fact, reject the premise you suggest. People who trust Scripture embrace all people regardless of their brokenness or blemishes. People who trust Scripture fight slavery and work for people to see that all life is precious and irreplaceable. People who trust Scripture… Read more »
Jay
Guest
Wes Andrews, not only are you in serious denial, but you obviously don’t read many Methodist blogs, whose comments are frequently filled with ugly and hateful and homophobic rhetoric. What you seem to mean by “standing with Scripture” is cherry-picking the parts that you like and ignoring the ones you don’t. The BoD is manifestly lying when it says that homosexuality is incompatible with Christianity. That is not standing with Scripture, that is lying, and it is lying in a way that does grave injury to many people, either by pushing them away from the true Gospel message or leading… Read more »
Wes Andrews
Guest

Jay, I’m curious do you believe that polygamy is acceptable? Why or why not?

Wes Andrews
Guest
You are correct I don’t read any Methodist blogs. And for any who would be harsh or belittling to anyone, including homosexuals, I would stand with you and tell them that they are wrong spirited. When Jesus defended the woman caught in adultery, while he didn’t condemn her, neither did he condone whatever sin she might have committed. He did so with gentleness and love. It is wrong to make a stance without love. But it is not wrong to stand with Scripture. I’m not in any denial. I would say that the pro-gay marriage/ordination are. They see a stop… Read more »
Jay
Guest

WAD, I suspect that if you did not have gay people to hate on, you would find some other group to object to having their ideas crammed down your throat. I suspect the only ideas you are comfortable with are your own, and I shudder to think how ugly they are.

Wes Andrews
Guest
Jay, I think hatred comes as much from the pro-gay marriage people as they claim it comes from those who refuse to reject the Biblical definition of sexuality and marriage. You and others have basically accused those of us who stand with Scripture as haters, heterosexists, and homophobes. I think personal hateful attacks are wrong no matter who communicates them. A position supporting Scripture doesn’t make one a hater by any means. And a position rejecting Scripture in this matter doesn’t make one a hater either. Yet, hate can come from all sides and is based on the attitude of… Read more »
Jay
Guest

Here is a link to a news report about this church and the choir director. I suspect that this is the beginning of the end of the UMC. Even rural “conservative” congregations are not going to put up with such hateful discrimination: http://www.heraldbulletin.com/local/x12785052/Alex-church-torn-apart-by-gay-issue/?state=taberU

MethodistPie
Guest

Jay, Look at your own link. The local “sources” are the choir director and one family of advocates. There seems to have been no attempt to get what might have been “the other side of the story.” If you’re right about this being “the beginning of the end,” the folks who want to pounce on highly suspect stories such as this will be at least as responsible as those you would label ‘haters.’

Jay
Guest

The choir director says that he was forced to resign. As for Cabernet above, nothing could illustrate more the failure of the moral imagination in the UMC than the belief that discrimination and marginalization of gay people is equivalent to “decency.”

MethodistPie
Guest

In another place, the choir director said he had additional duties assigned to him whereupon he quit. There so many problems with this story…..

MethodistPie
Guest

It would have been indecent to fire him because of his sexual orientation. He quit. This shouldn’t have been a news story in the first place.

Cabernet
Guest

Once again, hurrah for the United Methodist Church for having standards of decency, based on the explicit ethical teaching of both Old and New Testaments, and actually following those standards of decency! As someone else in the discussion suggested, a homosexual choir director can easily find work, in probably 90+ percent of Episcopal parishes, so I am sure the unfortunate former choir director in the news story will not starve. Speaking personally, I just think it is great that there is a mainline denomination that stands for basic decency! Good for the UMC – may their tribe increase!

Mike Hodge
Guest
I’m sorry, but where do you see basic decency? It’s not decent to marginalize people — to push them away when we are all the family of God. By the way, “decency” is an interesting thing. Most religious people thought Jesus had no decency, eating with tax collectors and “sinners.” It’s Jesus’ example that I hope the UMC will follow. Not standards of “decency.” And I’m always fascinated that a couple of references to homosexuality in the Bible (which had nothing to do with committed relationships) somehow become more important than the many MANY references to not charging interest that… Read more »
Wes Andrews
Guest
Mike, there is a very clearly defined understand of sexuality and marriage in Scripture. It’s not just a “couple” of references. And the definition is not particularly focused on homosexuality. It’s focused to providing a safe environment for rearing children, and as a gift to celebrate love between one man and one woman in a lifelong committed marital relationship. On the contrary, it is the culture that is consistent in sexualizing everything and objectifying women and men. It is the culture that promotes destructive concepts of sexuality. The culture is the worst source for understanding sexuality. Yet, that’s where the… Read more »
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