A Potpourri of Stuff Related to the Karen Dammann Trial
A Potpourri of Stuff Related to the Karen Dammann Trial - March 2004

"Married" Lesbian United Methodist Pastor from
Pacific Northwest Conference of The United Methodist Church
[She just recently "married" her "partner" in one of those special ceremonies!]

Hello there -- Theo, CR's administrative assistant, here! As could be expected, Karen Dammann's trial has received national coverage in the media. Below is a lot of information as well as links to complete stories -- in some cases the links may have expired. All this is to remind you that the sodomite/lesbian steamroller is still moving under a full head of steam! This bunch is getting major, major sympathy from the mass media folks -- and the increased number of TV programs which portray sodomy & lesbianism in a most favorable light are also helping in breaking down resistence -- case in point -- the very popular program, "Queer Eye for the Straight Guy!"

With a jury verdict of "not guilty" which makes it a big, big win for Karen in her "married" lesbian relationship with her partner, the sodomite/lesbian cartel will reap millions of dollars worth of very favorable publicity -- she'll be featured very high profile in the media for some time -- conveniently, just before General Conference which opens in Pittsburgh PA on April 27th!!!!

More reporting on reactions and speculating what will happen down the road -- plus Bishop Galvan makes a statement -- that you have to take with a ton of salt -- uh, make that 10 tons! Digest it at Future speculation and a bishop's "pious" statements in the aftermath of the Dammann debacle!

Was this thing staged with a deliberate "way out of plumb" stance from the beginning? Look at Dammann's Trial Is Going to Cost Her! -- details as to the defense witnesses vs. prosecution witness, plus even the "prosecutor" said he is glad Karen had "won" according to an Associated Press report!

Jury statement "justifying" its verdict at Jury tells why Karen is not guilty!

Announcement of verdict at Karen Dammann Found Not Guilty!

Bishop Judith Craig Throws in Her Two Cents Worth! (read: let everyone come on in regardless of their moral standards -- we're all children of God, right?) at Judith Speaks!

Updated reports of trial proceedings for Friday, March 19, from United Methodist News Service at March 19 Proceedings

Updated reports of trial proceedings for Thursday, March 18, from United Methodist News Service at March 18 Proceedings

For variety of reports from different sources go to A Variety of News Reports

You can read an "eye witness" account as given by United Methodist News Service at bottom of this area past the abbreviated news releases -- to go immediately there, click on Eye Witness of Dammann Trial

Monday, March 22, 2004
Dammann Verdict: What Happens Next?
By Lynne DeMichele and Kim Riemland*

BOTHELL, Wash. (UMNS) - For the Rev. Karen Dammann, her acquittal on the charge that she broke church law means she can remain in ministry - a calling she first heard as a child.

It also means that she will return to active ministry, after going on family leave March 1. For the 10 million-member United Methodist denomination, the ruling has ignited strong reactions that will reverberate in the global church's legislative meeting next month.

On March 20, a church trial court of 13 fellow pastors found that while Dammann was a "self-avowed practicing homosexual," she was not guilty of the single charge against her: that of "practices declared by the United Methodist Church to be incompatible with Christian teachings." Eleven members voted not guilty and two were undecided; no one voted guilty. Nine guilty votes were required to convict.

"I'm in good standing," said a smiling Dammann at a news conference following the verdict. "I never had my doubts that God was in this process." Her partner of nine years, Meredith Savage, was at her side.

But even Dammann knows the verdict could further divide a church that has long wrestled with the issue of homosexuality and the role of gays in ministry.

"For the church, it means another level of struggle. I'm mindful of that," Dammann acknowledged. "It's going to be painful."

Beginning April 27, the General Conference, the church's elected legislative branch, will meet in Pittsburgh to debate church policies and laws. Nearly 1,000 delegates from around the world will revise the United Methodist law book, the Book of Discipline. It is the very book that the Dammann trial court ruled does not clearly declare the practice of homosexuality to be incompatible with Christian teachings.

After acquitting Dammann, a member of the trial court read a statement explaining the decision, noting that even the jurors were divided on that point. "We, as the trial court, are far from unanimous regarding biblical and theological understandings," the statement said.

The pivotal issue came down to a lack of a declarative statement in the Book of Discipline.

"We searched the Discipline and did not find a declaration that 'the practice of homosexuality is incompatible with Christian teachings,' the statement read. Although the jurors found passages containing the "incompatible..." phrasing, they said they "did not find that any of them constitute a declaration" that homosexuality is a chargeable offense.

Instead, trial court members pointed to other statements that are clearly declarative, such as: "Inclusiveness means openness, acceptance and support that enables all persons to participate in the life of the church, the community and the world. Thus, inclusiveness denies every semblance of discrimination." (Section 6 of The Ministry of all Christians, section VI "Called to Inclusiveness," Paragraph 138, p. 93.)

With a United Methodist clergy trial, the respondent, or defendant, has the right to appeal, but the church does not. In a statement to clergy and members of the Pacific Northwest Annual (regional) Conference, Bishop Elias Galvan said the church followed its processes "sometimes painstakingly."

"Every appeal in this case has been exhausted," said Galvan, who filed the original complaint in 2001 that eventually led to the trial. "In our church, we recognize and respect the decision of the trial court."

Galvan noted that the verdict would not resolve the conflict in the church.

In a post-trial press conference, Galvan told reporters that "yes, we're not of one mind on this issue." Nevertheless, he said, "We have followed carefully the Discipline and ... the jury has rendered a verdict, and we must accept it." He went on to say that Dammann is "a respected member of this conference, and it's been painful for me to see her struggle through this difficult process."

Reactions to the verdict

"We will not be the same as we were last week," said the Rev. James Finkbeiner, counsel for the church, after the trial. Finkbeiner presented the case against Dammann.

He believes the acquittal will increase the intensity of debate about homosexuality and how church law deals with it when General Conference meets next month. "I think it will be a lively issue. ... Maybe it (the verdict) will add a greater motivation."

Howie Schwend, a retired airline pilot and a lay member of the Pacific Northwest Conference who attended the trial opening, told UMNS that the controversy over homosexuality in the church was "only a symptom." He said the "real issue is biblical authority" and stated that Scripture clearly calls homosexuality a sin. Schwend is also a member of the church's national Confessing Movement, an organization working to call the church to its doctrinal roots.

The Rev. Edd Denton of Avon United Methodist Church in Mount Vernon told a Seattle newspaper he's concerned the jury's decision will split his local church, as well as the denomination as a whole. "If we are unwilling to follow our own rules, it seems to me that then anything can go. It could potentially lead to anarchy," Denton said.

Indeed, a number of local churches in the area say they've been flooded with calls from parishioners angry or pained by the verdict. Some callers have even threatened to withdraw their membership in the church.

As with many other local churches, members of Gig Harbor United Methodist Church met Sunday to discuss the verdict. Several felt that church law had been circumvented. Others voiced their confusion about how a gay pastor could be allowed to continue in an appointment. Pastor Al Aosved responded with a reminder that the verdict represents one jury's opinion about one particular case.

While some people were upset at the verdict, others affirmed it.

Amory Peck of Bellingham, Wash., is a lay delegate to the upcoming General Conference. He said the trial was an opportunity to be a "prophetic voice" on the issue of homosexuality. The outcome of the trial "won't change the law," he said, "but it could show the world a new understanding." He added, "… This is a new day."

"This is a great day in the United Methodist Church," said the Rev. Rody Rowe as he opened the prayer service following the verdict. He led those gathered in prayer, asking God to "help us to accept each other as Christ accepted us. … Teach us to care for all people as we find them. ... Give us new eyes for seeing." He closed with, "Free us; make us one."

The United Methodist Church's first public debate about issues related to homosexuality occurred at the 1972 General Conference. The topic has continued to be a "long and painful struggle," according to a report to the 1992 General Conference from the Committee to Study Homosexuality.

Said church counsel Finkbeiner: "I don't know any family that always agrees on everything."

In his statement, Galvan called on the pastors and church members in his area to "refocus our attention on mission."

"We are united by our call to faithful discipleship," he said. "Let us join in prayer for our church and its mission in the world."

*DeMichele and Riemland are freelance writers based in the Seattle area. Along with freelance photographer Les Fetchko, they covered the clergy trial for United Methodist News Service.


The full text of Bishop Elias Galvan's statement follows:


Saturday, March 20, 2004

To the pastors and people of the Pacific Northwest Conference of The United Methodist Church

Grace and peace to you in the name of Jesus Christ our Lord.

I thank my God every time I remember you, constantly praying with joy in every one of my prayers for all of you, because of your sharing in the gospel from the first day until now. (Philippians 1.3- 5)

I am grateful to you for your faithfulness through these days: for your prayers; for enabling many pastors to participate in the jury pool and the trial court.

Many volunteers have helped with registration, hospitality, pastoral care, and crowd management for this important, historic and very public event. I want to thank the pastors, staff and members of the Bothell United Methodist Church who have opened their doors, offered their services and created a safe and neutral space for the church to do its work and the Holy Spirit to tend the church.

Our sister in Christ, the Rev. Karen Dammann, was acquitted of charges against her on Saturday, March 20, 2004. After two days of intense testimony and 9 ˝ hours of deliberation, a trial court of 13 clergy members of the Pacific Northwest Conference agreed that Karen is a self-avowed practicing homosexual, but found her not guilty of "practices declared by The United Methodist Church to be incompatible with Christian teachings." The vote was 11 in favor, 2 undecided and 0 opposed.

For 3 years, we have followed the processes of the church carefully, sometimes painstakingly. This matter has been reviewed and informed by the Judicial Council of the Church on two separate occasions. Every appeal in this case has been exhausted. In our church we recognize and respect the decision of the trial court. The Rev. Karen Dammann remains an elder in good standing and member of the Pacific Northwest Conference. This matter is resolved.

This decision will not resolve the conflict within The United Methodist Church, nor within the congregations of this Conference. As long as this issue is important to society, the Church must continue to reflect theologically and biblically and lead in ministries of justice and peace.

While this trial has rightfully taken our time and energy, we must now refocus our attention on our mission. It is time to take up our burden of unresolved conflicts, even as we step out in faith. Now it is time to turn again to our urgent responsibility to bear witness to the gospel of Jesus Christ in the world.

Today people hunger and thirst for righteousness. Today children seek a word of affirmation and hope in their lives. Today the message of grace and forgiveness is balm for a hurting world. God empowers every church to be a haven of hope and a place of peace in its community. God gives us hands to serve and soothe, feet to walk in companionship, voices to preach the good news and raise the cry for justice.

We are united by our call to faithful discipleship. Let us join in prayer for our church and its mission in the world. The Holy Spirit has sustained us through this very difficult process. Let us place our confidence in God's faithfulness as together we journey into the future.

And may the peace of God which surpasses all understanding, guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.


Elias Galvan
Bishop of the Seattle Area
The United Methodist Church


By Paul Beeman
Reporter for Pacific Northwest Reconciling Ministries Network

BOTHELL, WA, March 20--A church trial court has issued a stunning verdict upsetting of the United Methodist assumption that homosexual practice is "incompatible with Christian teaching."

After a four-day trial in Bothell, Washington, the panel of 13 United Methodist clergy-- 5 men and 8 women--acquitted the lesbian pastor, the Rev. Karen Dammann, without a dissenting vote. The count was: guilty 0, undecided 2, not guilty 11.

The courtroom, set up in the Bothell church fellowship hall, was almost entirely filled with Dammann supporters and the nation's media reporters. Joyous laughter and tears of relief erupted as the verdict was announced.

The church's counsel presented only Bishop Elias Galvan as a witness supporting the charges. He had initiated the original process leading to the trial. But Dammann's defense called to the stand a virtual Who's Who of United Methodist bishops, biblical scholars, academics, church administrators and pastoral supervisors.

The evidence most reflected in the panel's decision had been presented to the court by a defense witness, retired Bishop Jack M. Tuell, of Des Moines, Washington. As both an attorney and bishop, he is generally regarded the denomination's top expert on civil and church law. Going back to the 1988 General Conference of the denomination's law-making body, he traced every step in the church's accrual of pro- and anti-gay rhetoric and legislation to the present time.

Tuell noted that "United Methodists know how to make declarations," and gave illustrations. But, he said, while there have been references to homosexuality in church legislation, both positive and negative, "The United Methodist Church has never declared homosexual practice incompatible with Christian teaching."

An alleged "declaration" had been the basis for the charges against Dammann, and the lack of one became one of the basis for her acquittal.

The decision of the Pacific Northwest Annual Conference trial court cannot be appealed. Thus Pastor Dammann remains "in good standing" as a clergyperson, and therefore must be given an appointment to a pastorate by her bishop.

What remains facing Pastor Dammann and her family is a staggering debt. While the denomination pays for its side of the trial which it initiated, she is personally responsible for several thousand dollars related to her defense. At least five of her witnesses had to be flown to Seattle and supported while there.

Why the financial crisis? Since March 1 Dammann has been on "Family Leave" with no salary, and none expected until July 1. Her life partner, Meredith Savage, had been a mid-level executive in environmental wet lands management. But with the uncertainty of Dammann's future, she had to step aside from her position, and is trying to develop a new internet business. But she has lost her health insurance. Meanwhile, their 5˝-year-old-son suffers from a rare lung disease. Just his hospital bill last month surpassed $6,000.

As a Reconciling Ministries leader, said, "We cannot let Karen become the sacrificial lamb of the United Methodist gay rights movement. She has led our struggle with rare courage and personal risk. Now we must help her to survive."

A "Karen Dammann Fund" has been set up at Washington Mutual Bank, and donations can be made to the fund at any Washington Mutual branch. Or tax-deductible donations may be made to the Pacific Northwest Reconciling Ministries Network, made out to: "PNW-RMN," noted for "Dammann Fund," and sent to 5701 Mac Arthur Blvd., Vancouver, WA 98661.

With the United Methodist General Conference set to begin its every- four-year meeting in Pittsburgh April 29, Dammann was asked, "What next?" She replied, "This means we are entering another stage in the struggle."


Quote from AP release: “These are not easy issues to agree upon,” said Rev. Jim Finkbeiner, who prosecuted the case against Dammann but said he was personally glad she won. “Frankly, we in the Northwest are still in the minority, but it’s a growing minority.”


Jury issues statement on decision in Dammann case
(5:40 p.m. PT, Saturday, March 20, 2004)
United Methodist News Service

BOTHELL, Wash. — After announcing a verdict of not guilty in the clergy trial of the Rev. Karen Dammann, the jury read a statement to the court.

The statement was read by the Rev. Karla Fredericksen, a member of the 13-member jury, or trial court. Fredericksen serves at Tukwila United Methodist Church.

The full text follows (the paragraph reference in the opening sentences is to the denomination's Book of Discipline):

The only charge brought against the Rev. Karen T. Dammann is "practices declared by The United Methodist Church to be incompatible with Christian teachings," under Paragraph 2702.1b relating to the Judicial Complaint of Bishop Elias Galvan. While sustaining the specification that Rev. Karen Dammann is a self-avowed practicing homosexual, we, the trial court, do not find the evidence presented by church counsel to be clear and convincing that Karen Dammann has engaged in any "practices declared by the United Methodist Church to be incompatible with Christian teachings." We cannot sustain the charge.

We, the trial court, reached our decisions after many hours of painful and prayerful deliberation, and listening for and to the word of God. We depended on the prayers of the whole church, which undergirded our process. We depended on the leading of the Holy Spirit.

We have made every attempt to be faithful to the Book of Discipline in its entirety. We have taken very seriously the mandate to presume innocence unless there is sufficient evidence to bring a different verdict. The church's obligation is to present clear and convincing evidence to sustain the charge. We searched the Discipline and did not find a declaration that "the practice of homosexuality is incompatible with Christian teaching."

We did see in the Discipline many declarative statements. An example is: "Inclusiveness means openness, acceptance, and support that enables all persons to participate in the life of the Church, the community, and the world. Thus, inclusiveness denies every semblance of discrimination." (Section 6 of The Ministry of all Christians, section VI, "Called to Inclusiveness," Paragraph 138, p. 93, second paragraph)

Although we, the trial court, found passages that contain the phrasing "incompatible with Christian teaching," we did not find that any of them constitute a declaration.

We realize that the church is divided regarding issues of homosexuality. We, as the trial court, are far from unanimous regarding biblical and theological understandings.

The beginning sentence of "Our Theological Task," Paragraph 104, Conclusion, p. 85, says: "Doctrine arises out of the life of the Church - its faith, its worship, its discipline, its conflicts, its challenges from the world it would serve." In this spirit, we have engaged in this judicial task.

Dammann Trial Verdict
United Methodist News Service
(3:45 p.m. PT, Saturday, March 20, 2004)

BOTHELL, Wash. -- The 13-member jury in the trial of the Rev. Karen Dammann has returned a verdict of not guilty.

Eleven members of the jury -- or trial court -- voted not guilty, while two jurors were undecided. The trial court comprises a panel of Dammann's clergy peers in the United Methodist Church's Pacific Northwest Annual (regional) Conference.

Nine guilty votes would have been needed to have convicted Dammann. In a United Methodist clergy trial, the respondent has the right to appeal a guilty verdict. However, the church cannot appeal a not- guilty verdict.

March 20, 2004
Staying in Christian Conversation
Talking About the Dammann Trial

"A word out of your mouth may seem of no account, but it can accomplish nearly anything – or destroy it." (from James 3, The Message, by Eugene Peterson)

Lots of words will come out of many mouths in the next days and weeks in the wake of a significant moment called a church trial. The stream of words will continue as we move toward and through General Conference – not just words from the delegates but also from those who discuss the delegates and how they will treat issues and decisions.

What will those words accomplish – or destroy? It may be a good time to read the third chapter of James again – in several versions. Those ancient words about the tongue and what it can do are very timely for all of us who will comment, ask questions, agree and disagree with each other. The disagreement is natural. How the words of disagreement are spoken is a matter of choice for each of us.

Civil discourse is about faithfulness. It has to do with remembering that those to whom and about whom we speak are all children of God, hence meriting honor and respect as persons. As we wish to be treated with reverence, let us remember to treat others with reverence. Guidelines to civil discourse are a road map for remaining faithful to God's intention of peaceful human community, where varieties of thoughts are welcomed, and those who offer them are welcome also, always with Christian charity and kindness.

Bishop Judith Craig

Bishop Judith Craig is a retired bishop of The United Methodist Church.


Dammann Trial Update (5 p.m. PT, Friday, March 19, 2004)

BOTHELL, Wash.—The jurors in the trial of the Rev. Karen Dammann have stated that they intend to deliberate for two more hours this evening, then resume deliberations at 8 a.m. local time Saturday, March 20. They will not have a verdict tonight.

Friday, March 19, 2004
Dammann Trial Update (11:45 a.m. PT)
United Methodist News Service

BOTHELL, Wash. - Closing arguments in the trial of the Rev. Karen Dammann have ended. Court is adjourned until 1:15 p.m. local time.

In a half-hour closing argument, the Rev. Jim Finkbeiner, church counsel, told the trial court (jury) that the church believes the Rev. Karen Dammann is "indisputably" guilty of breaking church law.

Dammann is an openly gay clergywoman charged with "practices declared by the United Methodist Church to be incompatible with Christian teachings." The charges stem from a 2001 letter she sent to her bishop saying she was living in a "partnered, covenanted, homosexual relationship."

"I remind you again that this is a trial about Karen Dammann," he said. "The law of the church today is not on trial."

Finkbeiner recapped the testimony of witnesses, only one of which was for the church's case. He spent the most time discussing the testimony of retired Bishop Jack Tuell, a former lawyer and widely respected authority on church law, acknowledging the powerful presence he has within the United Methodist Church.

Tuell testified at length March 18 on how language in the denomination's Book of Discipline on homosexuality had evolved to its present form. He had emphasized that the statement "Homosexuality is incompatible with Christian teaching" is in the Social Principles, and therefore intended as "instructive" rather than being seen as a church law.

Finkbeiner said that although Tuell was persuasive, his opinion was that of just "one faithful United Methodist among 10 million others."

Finkbeiner urged the trial court, consisting of 13 clergy members, to remember their ordination oath to "serve the church and follow the Discipline."

"You are not looking for painless ways out, or easy answers," he said. "Your charge is not to rewrite the law, but to decide if the law has been violated. Clearly, it has."

At 11:20 a.m., the Rev. Robert Ward, counsel for Dammann, began closing arguments.

He said he agrees that the trial court should follow The Book of Discipline, but should consider it as a whole, and not focus only on one or two paragraphs.

He disputed the church's assertion that Tuell's testimony was only opinion.

"I think there are many among you who, as I, felt the hand of God moving in this place, and that what Bishop Tuell brought to us is the beginning of a new understanding and a new way of viewing," he said. "It was far more than personal opinion."

Ward again compared the struggle for justice of gays and lesbians with the historical struggles of other marginalized people, such as women and people of color.

"Let me remind you that Rosa Parks would have stayed at the back of the bus if she had abided by that rule, abided by the principles," Ward said, referring to the civil rights pioneer who defied segregation in the 1950s.

Ward told the trial court that the world is watching and listening to what happens in this case. "Prolonged injustice becomes another source of encouragement for those who want to know it's OK to hurt homosexuals," he said.

He ended his closing argument by quoting from the Pete Seeger song "If I had a Hammer," then told the trial court: "Your hammer is your vote. Hammer out justice for Karen Dammann. Let your vote ring out for justice. Let it ring out across this church. Let it ring out all across this land of ours," he said.

The church wrapped up with a brief response, reminding the trial court again that the law itself is not at issue.

"It is the General Conference that sets the law," said Finkbeiner, referring to the denomination's top assembly. "If we do something radically different here, pretty soon we lose discipline and order."

The day began with those present reciting the historic Methodist Prayer for Purity, as they had on each of the two previous days. Bishop William Grove convened the third day of proceedings in the trial, being held at Bothell United Methodist Church.

A member of the church's Study Committee on Homosexuality, established by General Conference in 1988, was called as the day's first witness, and the trial's last.

The Rev. Rebecca Parker, testifying for the defense, spoke at length from a theological perspective about the issue of homosexuality and church law. She touched on the difficulties of the committee's four- year study but went on to focus on the church's struggles with earlier, once-controversial issues, in which biblical teaching seemed at odds with new understandings of holy truth, such as the rights of women and minorities as fully participating members.

"We have been wrong" about those two earlier issues," she said. "We have been wrong to read homosexuality as a dis-order of creation."

"Our (United Methodist) Social Principles. . .(our) teachings of what sexual practices are incompatible with Christian teaching… are insufficiently developed at this point," she said.

Parker is a fourth-generation clergy member of the United Methodist Church's Pacific Northwest Annual (regional) Conference and a member of its board of ordained ministry. She serves as president and professor of theology at Starr King School for Ministry in Berkeley, Calif.

A question from the jury asked what her experience had been with homosexuals who tried to "conform" to heterosexual practice. Parker testified that in her pastoral experience, she had never seen someone who tried to "conform" actually achieve a stronger relationship with God, with others, or with their inner self in the process.

"I've only seen people break their hearts against the rocks of conformity to heterosexuality," she said.

At the close of testimony, Grove reminded trial observers to refrain from demonstrations of disappointment or approval throughout the trial, especially when a verdict is announced later on.

"We remain the church together, and we all win and we all lose," he said.


Thursday, March 18, 2004

The following updates from United Methodist News Service are in reverse chronological order.

Dammann Trial Update (5:30 p.m. PT)

BOTHELL, Wash. – Witness for the defense, the Rev. Ron Hines, took the stand Thursday afternoon. Hines is the Rev. Karen Dammann's District Superintendent (immediate supervisor) and noted that he had recently finished her regular six-month review along with the Staff- Parish committee of Ellensburg United Methodist Church. Dammann had been serving the church prior to being placed on leave of absence March 1. She is currently on trial for violating church law, as an openly gay clergyperson.

"Karen was caring, honest, truthful. . . a good time manager . . . and had a positive outlook," Hines said. When asked what impact her homosexuality might have had on her congregation, he answered, "There's no doubt they're in a better place now than before she came. . . . Karen helped them reclaim what it means to be a church."

When asked about why Karen was appointed to Ellensburg United Methodist Church last summer, he acknowledged that, "Yes, we were aware not every church would be ready. . . for a lesbian pastor." However, he added, after meeting Dammann the 250-member Ellensburg church welcomed her. And, yes, some had anxieties and a few families left the parish at first. "The rest were transformed through her own presence. . . and her ministry. It wasn't about being a lesbian; it's about being in ministry."

On cross examination, church counsel questioned whether her pastoral gifts were really the issue.

Bishop Jack Tuell, retired, took the stand next. A former practicing attorney, Tuell served as bishop of Los Angeles prior to his retirement and is regarded as an expert on church polity and law. His testimony traced the path of the issue of homosexuality as reflected in the United Methodist Discipline (law). After offering much detailed explanation and legislative history, he concluded that "In my considered opinion, there are grave questions of whether the discipline is sufficiently clear," in matters relating to homosexuality. He went on to point out that the "incompatibility" language is a part of the Social Principles which should be seen as "instructive and persuasive" and not the same as doctrine or law. He concluded saying, "The church has never declared homosexuality to be incompatible with Christian teaching."

On cross examination, church counsel James Finkbeiner said Tuell was "a weapon for change," then asked him if he would have pressed charges if he had been in Bishop Galvan's place.

Tuell thought a moment then said he felt "a grievous error was committed by the Judicial Council when it requested Bishop Galvan to file a complaint" against Karen Dammann. A follow-up question from the jury asked if a bishop is "required to bring a complaint" if he/she is aware the Discipline has been violated (It should be noted that one significant way a church trial differs from a civil trial is that members of the jury are allowed to submit written questions asking for clarification to the presiding bishop.) The answer given was both "no", but "yes" when mandated by Judicial Council. Galvan had filed the complaint against Dammann on orders earlier this year from the Judicial Council.


Dammann Trial Update (4:00 p.m. PT, Thursday, March 18, 2004)

BOTHELL, Wash. -- Karen Dammann told reporters she did not consider herself a lesbian before she was ordained a United Methodist elder in 1994. Rather, she said, it was the following year that her "self- understanding came to be what it is now."

The statement was in answer to a reporter's question at a press conference while the trial was in recess this morning. Dammann and her partner Meredith Savage sat together before a full press room at Bothell United Methodist Church, site of the church trial, where they responded to queries about their relationship and their son, as well as about the trial.

When asked if she intended to challenge church law with her declaration of being gay, Dammann answered by noting that she was just trying to live her calling to ministry with integrity. She added, "I heard very clearly that my colleagues were affirming my ministry." That was in reference to a vote of affirmation on the part of the Executive (clergy) Session of the annual conference in 2001 after the bishop and clergy members had all received her "coming out" letter. In it she had stated she was gay and no longer could live an implied "lie" about her sexual identify. "Yes, I recognized that [coming out] would be political," she stated.

She went on to describe the strain she had felt for years living with a burden of fear and how she had asked her partner to "keep one foot in the closet." Her subsequent decision to come out, she said, was triggered by her concerns as a parent, feeling strongly that she ought to set an example of truthfulness for her son. Beckett is the 5- year-old son of Meredith Savage whom Dammann adopted when he was two months old. Beckett's father is living in a committed relationship with another gay man. "Beckett has two dads and two moms," Dammann said.

Although Karen Dammann and Meredith Savage were legally married last week in Portland, Dammann noted that "We made our sacred vows eight years ago."

In answer to questions about her personal intentions or hopes with regard to the trial, the 47-year-old clergywoman acknowledged that she felt frustrated with the length and complexity of the process and with the reversals of earlier decisions to dismiss charges. Still, she said she did not regret the action which triggered it all. "God called me into ordained ministry and I can't believe He would make a mistake," she said. Even if she's found guilty and ends up losing her ministerial credentials, Dammann said she hoped her experience might help light the way for others in similar circumstances who are called to ministry.


Dammann Trial Update (3:39 p.m. PT, Thursday, March 18, 2004)

BOTHELL, Wa. - A blind retired United Methodist minister was assisted onto the stand this morning as a defense witness in the church trial of the Rev. Karen Dammann, an openly gay Washington clergywoman. Dammann is charged under church law with "practices declared by the United Methodist Church to be incompatible with Christian teachings."

The witness, Dr. Robert Walker, served as pastor of several churches in the Pacific Northwest Annual Conference. He was on the Board of Ordained Ministries between 1983 and 1992, and he was chairman when Karen Dammann went through the process of becoming ordained.

He answered several questions about what's become known as the "don't ask, don't tell" policy of not questioning candidates about their sexual orientation or details of intimate relationships. He said the practice was not to ask things such as the status of their marriage or why they were single.

"We were primarily concerned whether the candidate had the gifts and grace to serve," said Walker.

While several questions were directed at the process a candidate goes through on the road to becoming ordained, Walker got an audible response from the nearly-full fellowship hall of trial observers when he announced that he could be considered "incompatible with Christian teachings" because he is blind. He referred to Scripture in Leviticus 21 that says a blind man should not be allowed to approach God. He opined if the United Methodist Church had taken that passage literally, he would not have been able to serve, as he had, for so many years.

He went on to say the passage included a whole list of handicaps that would disqualify a person from serving God, including broken- footedness, which evoked laughter in the courtroom because defense counsel, Rev. Robert Ward, is currently wearing a splint on a healing foot.

Walker said he was trying to be funny with his comments, but he meant them in a serious way as well. He testified that he thought it was unfair that certain Scriptures were used to formulate church doctrine to stop a homosexual person from becoming a clergyperson, while other Scriptures were ignored.

"If we're going to lift one area and we're going to say that is the rule, then we must be consistent," he said."We're going to have to be consistent, and I should have been thrown out," he said.


Dammann Trial Update - 12:00 PT, Thursday, March 18, 2004

"The whole world is watching us," said Bishop William B. Grove as he convened the second day of the church trial of an openly gay Washington clergywoman. At the same time, he added, ". . . and perhaps more comforting, the whole church is praying for us." Boyd said he had received many "grace-filled" e-mail messages.

After lighting a candle symbolizing the presence of the Holy Spirit and leading the approximately 200 trial principals, jurists and observers present in prayer, he declared court in session at around 9:15 a.m.

The defendant, the Rev. Karen Dammann and her partner, Meredith Savage, sat together with their 5-year-old son Beckett at a table with their counsel. Beckett wore a sign that read "My Momma is of sacred worth." Early in the proceedings, Savage carried the boy out of the courtroom.

The Rev. James Finkbeiner, counsel for the church ("prosecutor"), called his first witness -- Bishop Elias Galvan, who presides over the Pacific Northwest Conference and filed the charges against Dammann.

Introducing a key piece of evidence, he read portions of a letter Dammann wrote the bishop in which she asked to be appointed to a church as an openly gay pastor. She was pastor of First United Methodist Church, Ellensburg, Wash., until placed on family leave by Galvan as of March 1. Finkbeiner said her "personal integrity" led her to make the request. "Karen has testified [at previous hearings] that she wasn't afraid" to be open about who she is, he noted, despite the fact that church law prohibits appointment of "self- avowed, practicing homosexuals."

Finkbeiner's asked the bishop why he brought the charges against Dammann. Galvan answered that he felt obligated to follow the Book of Discipline (church law). He acknowledged that there is a difference of opinion on the subject and stated that "Rev. Dammann is trying to test the Discipline."

During cross-examination, the Rev. Robert Ward, defense counsel, posed the rhetorical question, "Do we have the right person on trial?" He cited decisions rendered by other church bodies along with a conference clergy vote of affirmation last year as support of her ministry. As he began to ask Galvan about another local openly gay clergyman still serving a church, Finkbeiner objected twice on grounds of confidentiality. Presiding Bishop Boyd sustained his objections.

Ward asked Galvan if being gay had an effect on the quality of Dammann's ministry. The bishop replied, "I have high respect for Karen and her ministry. She has done a good job." Asked if her homosexuality had impaired her ministry in any way, Galvan replied, "She has done good work."


Dammann Trial Update – 9:00a.m. PT, Thursday, March 18, 2004

Seattle Bishop Elias Galvan is set to testify in the church trial of the Rev. Karen Dammann this morning. When court convenes at 9 a.m. Pacific, Galvan is expected to answer questions about why he filed the complaint against Dammann, which cited "practices declared by the United Methodist Church to be incompatible with Christian teaching."

Dammann, pastor of Ellensburg United Methodist Church, is an ordained United Methodist elder and is openly gay. Three years ago she wrote to the bishop telling him she was living in a same-sex, covenanted relationship with another woman.

The trial began March 17 after demonstrators, who were blocking the trial were removed by police. After a jury of 13 United Methodist elders from the Pacific-Northwest Annual Conference was selected, the trial began at 4 p.m. with a prayer led by presiding bishop William Boyd. Opening statements were made and two defense witnesses testified.


Wednesday, March 17, 2004
A gay Northwest pastor's self-defining moment By Mark Edward Williams
Special to The Seattle Times


The Rev. Karen Dammann faces a church trial this week for acknowledging that she is in a "partnered, covenanted, homosexual relationship." The trial, to be held at Bothell United Methodist Church, will determine whether Dammann is in violation of church laws that prohibit "self-avowed practicing homosexuals" from being United Methodist pastors.

The Seattle area once again stands at the forefront of the struggle for equal justice for gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender people. +MORE+


Wednesday, March 17, 2004
Protesters arrested as church trial of gay minister set to begin
By Lisa Heyamoto and Janet I. Tu
Seattle Times staff reporters


Police began arresting protesters around 9:45 this morning as the church trial of the Rev. Karen Dammann, an openly gay pastor, attempted to get underway at Bothell United Methodist Church in Bothell.

By mid-morning, 33 Dammann supporters had been arrested. They did not resist as officers from the Bothell Police Department led them away, patted them down and booked them at the scene. +MORE+


Wednesday, March 17, 2004
Protesters Surround Lesbian Minister's Trial
Associated Press



BOTHELL, Wash. — Police outside a United Methodist church arrested dozens of protesters Wednesday morning after they tried to stop a trial on whether a lesbian pastor could continue her ministry.

About 100 people protested loudly but peaceably outside Bothell United Methodist in this northeast Seattle suburb, and many blocked church officials from entering the building. Police began arresting them when they refused to move. +MORE+


Wednesday, March 17, 2004
Ken Schram Commentary: Basic Rights Or Fundamental Obligations?
By Ken Schram


SEATTLE - It's the difference between basic rights and fundamental obligations. Religious organizations certainly have the right to deny gay men and women a role as minister or rabbi. But I believe they also have a fundamental obligation not to do that. +MORE+


Wednesday, March 17, 2004
Trial of lesbian pastor set to begin
Boston Globe


"SEATTLE -- Today, the Rev. Karen Dammann, who three years ago declared she was in an openly gay relationship, faces perhaps one of the most grueling events of her life: a church trial for breaking United Methodist law by being a minister while in such a relationship." +SNIP+

While a few other Methodist clergy over the years have faced church trials for blessing same-gender unions, there has been only one church trial in the past 20 years in the Pacific Northwest Conference. +MORE+


Wednesday, March 17, 2004
Gay marriage big test for Methodist Chruch
Associated Press



SEATTLE - Today, the Rev. Karen Dammann, who three years ago declared that she was in an openly gay relationship, faces perhaps one of the most grueling events of her life: a church trial for breaking United Methodist law by being a minister while in such a relationship.

Last week, the pastor, who formerly served in Seattle and most recently in Ellensburg, Wash., experienced one of the happiest events: She got married. +MORE+


Thursday, March 18, 2004
Methodists Put Minister on Trial for Declaring Herself a Lesbian
New York Times



... this is a church at war with itself, enforcing a law that many of its own clerics and members here say they find immoral and un- Christian. Ms. Dammann's defense lawyer said in opening arguments that he would use Scripture and the church's own Book of Discipline to argue that her prosecution is at odds with the church's teaching and heritage. +SNIP+

Bishop Elias Galvan, who is in charge of the Pacific Northwest region, brought the initial charges against Ms. Dammann, for which he portrayed himself as a regretful participant. "She is a respected member of our conference and has done good ministry, and so this is a painful experience for all of us, including me," Bishop Galvan said. "My role as bishop is to make sure that the Book of Discipline, the church law, is applied." +MORE+


Thursday, March 18, 2004
Methodists Put Lesbian Minister on Trial
Associated Press


BOTHELL, Wash. — Dozens of demonstrators were arrested Wednesday as they tried to stop a church trial that could remove a lesbian from the Methodist ministry for living openly in a lesbian relationship. +MORE+


Wednesday, March 17, 2004
Dammann Trial Update - 11:30 a.m. PT
United Methodist News Service

Jury selection continues for the clergy trial of the Rev. Karen Dammann at Bothell (Wash.) United Methodist Church. The jury is being selected in the fellowship hall, which is serving as the courtroom for the trial.

Earlier, local police arrested as many as 42 protesters with the Soulforce organization for blocking the entrance to the church building. The police were called by the Rev. Robert Hoshibata, superintendent of the United Methodist Church's Seattle District, after protesters refused his three requests to leave. As individual police officers politely escorted them one-by-one away from the church, others linked arms and sang "We shall overcome," and "Jesus loves me. . ." According to police sources, the arrested protesters are being taken by bus to Bothell Municipal Court to be arraigned. They will subsequently be fined $250 each and released. The protesters opposed the holding of the trial, which they described as an "act of spiritual violence."

After protesters were removed, local Bishop Elias Galvan and presiding Bishop William Grove entered the church without incident. Close behind them were the Rev. Karen Dammann with her partner, Meredith Savage, and their 5-year-old son, Beckett. They were accompanied by close friend and counselor the Rev. Joe Miller. In answer to a reporter's question, Dammann acknowledged that she and Savage were married in Oregon last week, but she declined comment further before the trial.

Security remains highly evident, with more than 30 police on site and another 100 on call. Chain-link security fencing was erected last night along the sidewalk bordering the high school next to the church along with security cameras on the school roof, all at a reported cost of $10,000 paid for by the school.

Dammann is charged under church law with "practices declared by the United Methodist Church to be incompatible to Christian teachings." The complaint brought by Bishop Galvan stems from a letter Dammann wrote to him in 2001 stating that she was living in "a partnered, covenanted, homosexual relationship."

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