10 Retired Clergy Say They Will Officiate at Weddings of Same-Sex Couples

Texas 10 RETIRED CLERGY SAY THEY WILL OFFICIATE AT WEDDINGS OF SAME-SEX COUPLESEven though their denomination’s policy officially prohibits clergy from officiating at the wedding of any same-sex couple at the risk of losing their ordination, ten retired United Methodist clergy have stated their intent to make themselves available to officiate weddings of same-sex couples. Each clergy person has their own individual requirements for the couples asking to get married—some are only offering their services to members of their own congregations, while others are available to those outside their local church and are willing to travel. All ten clergy require that the couples prepare for marriage through counseling.

The clergy group calls themselves United Methodist Clergy for Faithful Obedience and they are Rev. Richard T. Bates, Rev. Neal L. Baumwart, Rev. William Frisbie II, Rev. George Holcombe, Rev. Fred Kandeler, Rev. Victoria Reed Bailey, Rev. John Reynolds, Rev. Susan Sprague, Rev. Dr. Dale G. Tremper, and Rev. John Yeaman. Eight of the clergy reside in the Austin area, and Rev. Kandeler and Rev. Dr. Tremper reside in San Antonio.

Each clergy person takes their pastoral duty seriously. Rev. William (Bill) Frisbie II states, “I understand that acting on my conviction is a direct challenge to a portion of the United Methodist Book of Discipline. I also understand that thousands of United Methodist clergy have been ordained because, decades ago, prophetic voices no less challenged historic presumptions regarding gender and race relative to the fitness of one’s calling. I now number myself among the ranks of United Methodist clergy who declare our availability to officiate at same-sex weddings for prepared, adult couples simply because we not only recognize this as a civil right but also consistent with the spirit of Christ.”

Rev. Victoria Reed Bailey explains why she believes she is being faithful when she says she will go against her church law governing wedding ceremonies: “It is beyond belief that being ‘faithful’ to my ordination vows has been reduced to being ‘faithful’ to one prohibition of pastoral care and ministry to an entire group of human beings created in the image of God. When I reaffirmed my faith in the late 70’s, I pledged to ‘resist evil, injustice, and oppression in whatever forms they present themselves’. One of the ways I am doing that now, finally, is making myself available to officiate at the weddings of same gender couples, blessing their lives and union in the name of the Loving God who created us all.”

The statement released by United Methodist Clergy for Faithful Obedience was originally made public during the United Methodist Southwest Texas Annual Conference, held in Corpus Christi, as an announcement today during the conference’s first Reconciling Worship Service, organized by members of the Reconciling Ministries Network (RMN). RMN is a national organization dedicated to mobilizing United Methodists to create full inclusion of all God’s children regardless of their sexual orientation or gender identity since 1982. See the statement and more information about the clergy here: www.swtxreconciling.com/um-clergy-for-faithful-obedience

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36 Comments on "10 Retired Clergy Say They Will Officiate at Weddings of Same-Sex Couples"

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Anti-Mark
Guest
Mark, you keep quoting single Bible verses in holding to your cowardly views on marriage and Christianity. Jesus says nothing about same-sex marriage. Jesus also says nothing about using computers. Does this make using computers wrong? While Jesus did not say anything about same-sex marriage, he did have things to say about divorce. Yet you don’t seem to be concerned with prohibiting UM pastors from performing marriages for divorced people. Hmm. It would seem you have a bias against homosexuals that you do not hold against others. That is the very definition of bigotry. Also, why don’t we talk about… Read more »
Mark
Guest
Cowardly? What the devil are you talking about? If you were sitting in front of me I’ll bet the house you wouldn’t say that. If anything is cowardly it’s making unfounded accusations from the anonymity of a computer. My comments are based on reason and a holistic view of Scripture. You seem to misundestand the very basic Christian concept of loving the sinner without endorsing the sin. If you cannot get that then teaching you anything more advanced will be a waste of time. And the comparisons you make about women in the church and divorce are ludicrous, as I… Read more »
Joy B
Guest

Mark: “You have been checkmated several times in these comments…”

Sigh…I fear that I have debated too long here and have scared off even more from coming to or returning to the church. Many are weary of playing these games, and they don’t want to score points—myself included. I will continue to pray for the UMC, and for all those who have been excluded. Signing out now. Peace to all.

Sara
Guest

William, thank you for participating in discussion. I have several arguments with your posting. I will not go into any of them except one.

Saying someone is not Christian is judging where you do not know the faith of those involved. This topic has been debated, and the debate will continue, but we must insist, one with the other, that we are speaking with fellow Christians, fellow sinners along the journey. Period.
Sara

Joy Butler
Guest
Wes, What you say regarding Scripture being used to fight slavery is true, just as it is being used today to fight injustice against LGBTQ people. Some have always been on the right and wrong side of history. Those holding back queer people from full participation in the church today, are on the wrong side of history and may be putting their own salvation at risk. When Jesus said, “whatever you did not do for one of the least of these, you did not do for me”, he was not doubt speaking of youth living on the street, turning to… Read more »
Wes Andrews
Guest

So Joy does full inclusion include allowing people who practice polygamy to be leaders and clergy? Does it include clergy living together with their partner, but not married? Does full inclusion mean multigenerational marriage or living arrangements? I’m sincerely curious what you might think are the boundaries?

Joy B
Guest
Hi again Wes, Glad to answer your questions. My understanding is that full inclusion refers to those excluded from church leadership/marriage/participation by polity and practice, specifically LGBTQ people. Although full inclusion refers to a larger issue of anyone not feeling welcomed to church, along racial and economic divides. I would prefer clergy be married before living with a partner, and I am definitely not ok with polygamy. I do not understand your third question. FYI, I have been married to my husband for 18 years, we have a teen daughter, and believe that the questions our church face regarding welcoming… Read more »
Wes Andrews
Guest
Joy, thank you very much for your honest reply. My question is not a debate at all. So my response is not a point/counter point. Inclusion for me certainly includes all people within the community of our church including people who have differing perspectives on sexual orientation. When it comes to Leaders including clergy, we certainly cannot be “perfect” or else I would NEVER qualify, but there are certain Biblical values that I think clergy should be required to embrace. I really believe the current description in the BOD does a good job “celibacy in singleness, and fidelity in marriage.”… Read more »
Mark
Guest

Joy, based on your own reasoning you are being inconsistent—indeed are being exclusivist and unloving—if you do not allow people involved in loving polygamous relationships full inclusion in the church. So, being “definitely not ok” with polygamy is being “definitely not ok” with your own thought processes.

Mark
Guest
Joy, with all due respect I suggest you take a course in logic. You have been checkmated several times in these comments whether or not you realize it. Regarding polygamy, you admit that it is strictly your own subjective opinion that the church should be unwelcoming to polygamists…you back it up with no criteria involving Scripture, logic, etc. Yet, you forcefully condemn those who point directly to Scripture, natural law and Christian tradition regarding the practice of homosexuality. So, you are inconsistent to the point of being utterly incoherent in your reasoning. (By the way, polygamy has never been a… Read more »
Joy B
Guest
Mark, you are the one being inconsistent. Polygamy is not a good model healthy Christian relationships, imho. Comparing married same-sex couples to polygamous couples is comparing apples to oranges. Or maybe you are being consistent in supporting Biblical marriage, because polygamy is a tradition Christian marriage model in the Bible? 😉 All kidding aside, Wes asked me what I believed personally. I do not speak for all progressive Christians, was just answering his question regarding my personal comfort belief. I don’t think it is fair to attack my personal beliefs when I am honestly answering a query posed by someone… Read more »
Rev John F Yeaman
Guest

Mark summarizes Jesus’ teaching “He declared all things clean,” and Peter’s revelation in Acts 10 how can you call what God made unclean and unfit? I think and trust we are following Jesus.

Cathey Thomas
Guest
Good for them! And anyone who thinks this decision is or was a simple one is kidding himself, whether the ministers are retired or still preaching. I am confident that, in the future, discrimination against homosexuals (especially by a Christian church) will be as unthinkable as racial or sexual discrimination is now, both of which were obviously hot button issues in the recent past. Speaking of living in the past, there are still plenty of people, unfortunately, who cherry-pick Bible passages to support their causes and have the audacity to put their own words of hatred into Jesus’ mouth. There… Read more »
Cathey Thomas
Guest
“A lie is a lie even if everyone believes it. The truth is the truth even if nobody believes it.” First of all, I do not labor under the illusion that Jesus actually wrote the Bible, whether it’s the Book of Matthew or ANY of the rest of it, nor did GOD. HUMANS passed down stories which were eventually written into books, which were edited and picked over and finally the ones that pleased the MEN at the Council of Nicea and the Emperor Constantine were compiled into the Bible. And it’s been further re-translated, twisted and knotted into macrame… Read more »
Mitch
Guest

Here’s a thought for the UMR folks: Why not do a piece on the thousands of faithful clergy in the UMC who REFUSE to break covenant, or ignore the BOD by performing same-sex unions? Get their take on it and their theological/ethical stance that informs their actions. Your lack of balance in this matter makes you look like a shill for the minority opinion.

Gregory Peterson
Guest

In other words, you’re asking for an article on the thousands of faithful clergy who want to deny for Gay adults what they allow for themselves, such as a church wedding, legal recognition of their marriage and family…

People who oppose equality for Gay people remind of of George Whitefield’s justification for legalizing slavery in Georgia.

RBR
Guest
William, Wes, Mitch, and Co., thank you for reminding me of the hostility I would encounter if I were to attempt to return to the church. The UMC was such a huge part of my life as a young person, but I always knew I would eventually have to leave. I knew that the only way to maintain my involvement would be to continually lie about myself, so that men like you wouldn’t feel uncomfortable. So, I left and haven’t felt compelled to return. Perhaps, someday, enough young progressives will infiltrate your ranks. Perhaps, someday, hetero-centrist men will no longer… Read more »
Bill J.
Guest
I’m disappointed in a lot of the comments here. Just because someone believes differently how God has defined marriage does not mean they are “not followers of Jesus.” Way to judge folks. Bill Frisbie was my pastor years ago in college and if it wasn’t for him, I may very likely be an atheist today. He helped me through some of the hardest times of my life and I have never felt the presence of God more than growing in my faith under his guidance. Also, how is it “cowardly” for someone to wait until they’re retired to officiate a… Read more »
Mark
Guest
Bill, let my try to answer your questions. First, I think it is cowardly to do something when the major risks to doing it are gone. Tthese retired clergy are not risking being defrocked and the resultant financial loss because they are already retired. Had they done this when they were active clergy they would have risked more; but then they would have violated vows they willfully made to God and the church and disregarded the Scripture which prompted those vows. These retired clergy are still, at least tangentially, part of the denomination, so their refusal to continue to honor… Read more »
Joy B
Guest
Mark, I would like to address some of the comments you have made regarding the 10 retired Texas clergy: 1) Why are you making a judgement call regarding whether or not these clergy are brave to make this statement? I do not read anywhere that they are claiming to be brave, so why do you feel the need to knock them down as “cowards”—twice? They are simply making themselves available to provide a ministerial service not currently being provided by any other UM clergy in the SWTX conference. 2) Interesting that you choose to call these clergy “cowards”, when you… Read more »
Mark
Guest
Joy, I do not live in your area or else I would be glad to engage further. Please don’t disregard sources that are not Methodist….the larger perspective here is, of course, Christian (N. T. Wright is Anglican if that counts!). You did not explain what you mean by “100 percent factual.” If you mean interpreting the Bible literally in all cases then that is clearly not reasonable based on in-depth exegesis and based on Scripture itself, and that is not what I have advocated. Again, I would encourage you to consider what I have presented and to go to the… Read more »
Mark
Guest
Joy, I would urge you to read comments more carefully. I did not call these pastors cowards, I voiced the opinion that their actions IN THIS PARTICULAR CASE seem cowardly since they essentially risk nothing by engaging in these provocations. If you have evidence that these pastors are risking anything, particularly financially, then please forward it. (You cannot be “defrocked” by the UMC if you, via retirement, have already effectively been “defrocked,” although you may still have the legal right to perform civil marriage.) It is my impression that some of these pastors may have waited until retirement specifically because… Read more »
Joy Butler
Guest
Mark, Would love to talk about this more, but in this forum it is difficult for me to have a serious discussion around the premise that the Bible is a 100% factual document. Thank you for citing the 2 sources, I notice they are not Methodist. My recommendation for you (and anyone else curious to learn more) is UMC pastor Adam Hamilton’s “Making Sense of the Bible.” I sincerely thank you for engaging in conversation. We have reached a point of going down a rabbit-hole of debate, which is unfortunately one of the limits of online communication. If you are… Read more »
Wes Andrews
Guest

Joy, Scripture is very clear about it’s defining of sexuality and marriage. It’s not fuzzy or unclear to anyone except progressives who ignore the authority and clarity of Scripture.

Wes Andrews
Guest
With respect Joy, even though some might have misused Scripture in regard to slavery, there were many who stood against slavery throughout history because Scripture clearly does not endorse slavery. Scripture also embraces women to use their spiritual gifts including leadership. In the same letter that Paul says that “women should be silent” he endorses a woman and her husband as leaders and pastors. They were his partners in ministry in Corinth. So clearly Paul did not mean for that instruction to be universal at all times. The church was on the “wrong side” of culture because Scripture ultimately is… Read more »
Joy B
Guest

Wes, we heard the same from Christians (including United Methodists) in the the past regarding slavery and racial segregation, that Scripture is clear and progressives were ignoring “the authority and clarity of Scripture.” I am 4th generation Methodist, and as my Daddy told me growing up, “God gave you a brain, and he expects you to use it!” I’m sure he was just paraphrasing John Wesley. 😉

Wes Andrews
Guest

Bill, it is most certainly a wonderful thing that Bill Frisbie had a positive impact on your life and helped the Spirit open doors to faith for you.

Mark
Guest

Journalism 101: Once you offer the opinion “Each clergy person takes their pastoral duty seriously” you have immediately made this article an opinion piece (ergo, it should have been placed in the appropriate section—not that what you choose to report on and the angle from which you typically approach it doesn’t reveal your bias, but at least make the attempt….).

Mark
Guest

I wonder if they would be doing this if there were any risk that they might lose their pensions.

MethodistPie
Guest

The role of the retired clergy in this is just plain weird. Their pensions aren’t going to be taken away. They aren’t up for appointment, obviously. Why didn’t they perform same sex weddings when they actually had something at stake? That might have been impressive. This isn’t.

Mark
Guest

Exactly. This is cowardly.

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