Lesbian United Methodist Clergywoman Will Face Church Trial
Lesbian United Methodist Clergywoman Will Face Church Trial

Wednesday, January 14, 2004
Lesbian United Methodist Clergywoman Will Face Church Trial
By United Methodist News Service

A Washington state clergywoman will face a United Methodist church trial for disclosing that she is living in a "covenanted homosexual relationship."

The Rev. Karen Dammann, pastor of First United Methodist Church of Ellensburg, made the disclosure to her bishop, Elias Galvan, in 2001. The United Methodist Book of Discipline bars "self-avowed practicing homosexuals" from being ordained or serving as clergy. The book also affirms gays as people of sacred worth.

The call for a trial was approved by a 5-2 vote by the Committee on Investigation of the denomination's Pacific Northwest Annual (regional) Conference, after a Jan. 12 hearing.

The committee is finalizing the bill of charges, said the Rev. Elaine Stanovsky, conference council director and assistant to the bishop, Jan. 14.

Galvan will be working this week with district superintendents on selecting a pool of jurors for the trial court, and he will be speaking with other bishops about who might preside over the trial, Stanovsky said. "We won't know the location and date until we have a presiding officer."

In a clergy trial, a panel of 13 United Methodist pastors serves as the jury, and at least nine votes are needed to convict. The pastors are chosen from a jury pool named by the annual conference cabinet. A bishop presides over the trial. In cases of conviction, the Book of Discipline provides for a range of penalties, including loss of ministerial orders for the clergy member.

Dammann couldn't be reached for comment by deadline Jan. 14. She continues to serve her congregation in Ellensburg, about two hours east of Seattle. Both Stanovsky and the bishop have had contact with the church's members in recent months, and Stanovsky said the congregation largely supports its pastor.

"The overwhelming majority of the church is supportive of Karen's ministry and want her to continue as their pastor," Stanovsky said.

Dammann's case has followed a winding path since she informed her bishop that she was "living in a partnered, covenanted homosexual relationship." At the direction of the Judicial Council, Galvan filed a complaint against Dammann, citing "practices declared by the United Methodist Church to be incompatible with Christian teachings."

The case went through the church's judicial process and reached the Judicial Council a second time last fall. The court reversed decisions by two lower church bodies - the conference committee on investigation and the Western Jurisdiction Committee on Appeals. Both of those committees had dismissed the charges against Dammann in split votes.

The court said both committees had committed "an egregious error of church law" by refusing to apply the Book of Discipline and the council's earlier decisions in the case. The Judicial Council also said that if members of the committee on investigation were "unwilling to uphold the Discipline for reasons of conscience or otherwise, such members must step aside in this matter."

The Judicial Council said it would retain jurisdiction "for the purpose of ensuring that its decision is implemented."

Following the council's ruling, one member of the committee on investigation stepped aside and was replaced by an alternate, according to Stanovsky's office. The committee met in mid-December in a closed hearing before convening again Jan. 12.

And a P.S. by Theo:

The outcome of this "trial" is most uncertain at this point -- one thing sure, if Karen D. is found guilty and removed from the ranks of the clergy, she will be portrayed as a "martyr" for the cause and this is bound to add fuel to the fire at the United Methodist Church's General Conference in 2004 in Pittsburgh -- as CR has noted elsewhere here on the Range -- the sodomite/lesbian cartel is rolling like an unstoppable juggernaut with a strategy that even low life politicians would find themselves envying! They are making significant gains not just in the church, as the November 2003 installation of a sodomite bishop in the Episcopal Church reminds us, but in government, the work place, the professional fields, the universities and public school systems as well!

And of course, there are a number of UMC bishops that are on the sodomite/lesbian cartel's bandwagon -- if you haven't been aware of this, maybe it's time to check UMC Episcopal Endorsement of Same Gender Coupling!

By the way, why not express yourself in a survey on The United Methodist Church and Homosexuality -- you have options in your answers! Use reverse feature on your browser to come back here.

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