By M.H. Cavanaugh
Christian Action League
November 13, 2014
WINSTON-SALEM – The United Methodist News Service (UMNS) is reporting that a Methodist pastor in Winston-Salem is facing a complaint under church law because he refuses to perform a same-sex marriage ceremony.
Kenneth Barner and Scott Chappell, a homosexual couple, are charging their pastor, Rev. Kelly P. Carpenter under the United Methodist Church’s Book of Discipline (BOD) with “failure to perform the work of ministry.” They argue the pastor of Green Street United Methodist Church is guilty of “gender discrimination” for not officiating over their vows and that the denomination’s rules forbidding UMC clergy from presiding over same-sex ceremonies create a contradiction in church policy.
The twist, however, is Rev. Carpenter is not a victim in the complaint, but actually a collaborator. Carpenter says he has followed the church’s prohibitions against same-sex marriages. He doesn’t want to risk censure from his denomination or injure the church’s ministry. Nevertheless, he is sympathetic with Barner and Chappell’s arguments.
Carpenter told UMNS “If there was a way for me to be a co-signer with the complaint, I think it’s right on the money.” Like Barner and Chappell, he contends the denomination’s BOD is inconsistent. “Are we going to violate the rule that bans discrimination? Or are we going to violate the rule banning discrimination that bans same-sex ceremonies?”
The UMNS notes that Green Street United Methodist Church made national headlines in March of last year when the church’s leadership council decided it would not hold any more weddings in the church until United Methodists lifted their prohibition against same-sex marriage. Carpenter says he has honored the church leadership council’s decision, although he did perform one opposite-sex ceremony outside of the church. He did not, however, sign the civil marriage license, but required the couple to get a local magistrate to sign it.
Despite the fact that North Carolina’s marriage protection amendment was overturned in October, Green Street Church is committed to keeping its prohibitions on all marriages in the church sanctuary until their denomination changes its stance on same-sex marriage. The denomination’s position on homosexuality and same-sex marriage can only be altered by its top lawmaking body, the General Conference. The General Conference is not scheduled to meet again until 2016 in Portland, Oregon.
The complaint filed by Barner and Chappell is currently in the hands of the Bishop of the Western North Carolina Conference, Larry M. Goodpaster. Goodpaster told UMNS that he has initiated the proper response according to the denomination’s Book of Discipline.
Mark Tooley, a United Methodist, and president of the Institute on Religion and Democracy tells the Christian Action League that he believes, “The complaint is a publicity stunt by a small liberal church long on record in opposition to United Methodism’s official prohibition against same sex rites. The complaint will not likely go very far, as among other reasons, the Bishop will not want the expense of a church trial for non-substantive reasons.”
But Ron Shank, also a United Methodist and a program director for American Family Radio in Tupelo Mississippi, says that a wave of pro-gay resolutions from regional conferences and a recent decision by the United Methodist Church’s top court to reinstate the credentials of a Pennsylvania pastor who violated church law by officiating at his son’s same-sex wedding, has proven too much for him. Shank says that he and his family plan to leave the denomination.
Shank declares, “The UMC has said that it cares more about the fear of man and public opinion than the rule of law as outlined in The Book of Discipline and most importantly in the Word of God. God will not honor a lukewarm church and I will not raise my children in a place that thinks the best way to deal with anyone’s sin is to approve of it or wink at it and pretend it isn’t happening…If you say you love sinners, then you must tell them the truth. They can be forgiven. Shame on us if we don’t proclaim that…A Gospel that cannot overcome sin is no Gospel at all.”
John Lomperis, director of the United Methodist program, at The Institute on Religion and Democracy, told the Christian Post in August of last year that among United Methodists in America, “the areas that have most enthusiastically embraced the sexual revolution are the most rapidly declining in membership and consequent influence,” while the churches that are growing are those more biblically faithful.
Dr. Mark Creech, executive director of the Christian Action League added, “Critical to understanding this issue necessitates we see in this situation correspondingly that homosexual activists will never be satisfied with same-sex marriage only. Their objective is to silence all opposition to their sexual sin either by delusion or legal means. It’s naïve to think this matter was ever about ‘live and let live.’ Homosexual activism is an aggressive, insistent force, just as surely as it was when it pressed upon Lot’s door in Genesis chapter 19. Churches should take action to protect themselves in their constitutions and bylaws, their books of discipline, stating clearly and consistently their religious objections, otherwise they can be vulnerable to attacks from within and without. What is more, I think if the leadership of a once great denomination is unwilling to uphold its discipline against rank and flagrant sin, then indeed it’s time to for faithful followers of Christ to separate from a compromised, even apostate church – ‘a little leaven leaventh the whole lump.’”
Take Christian Action:
To determine which documents can be added to your church’s constitution and bylaws to help protect it from homosexual activists, click here