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Here Come Da Judgy, Here Come Da Judgy.... - Blather. Rants. Repeat.
A Møøse once bit my sister ...
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Here Come Da Judgy, Here Come Da Judgy....

I could do a whole post about the Kentucky county clerk who is now sitting in a jail cell after disobeying a direct and lawful order to do the job she was elected to do. But that's far away and in a part of the country where I don't expect reason to prevail. I mention it, though, because a lot of the same thinking comes into a different developing controversy tied to same-sex marriage- one that's not only nearer to me (Michigan), but far dearer, concerning as it does the religious denomination in which I've been a lifelong attendee and a 40-plus-year full member.

It also hits home because of a recent experience having nothing to do with church (mine or anybody's) or same-sex marriage.  Three weekends ago, a longtime friend of ours got married. It was the second marriage for both her and the groom, it was held in her back yard, and neither had particular need for the holy trappings of St. Whoever or the imprimatur of some judge or other elected official. So her brother did the marryin', freshly armed with his newly-minted credentials from the Universal Life Church.  He even got the stinkin' t-shirt:



I've known about this "church" for years; one of my best friends in law school had his ordination certificate from first year on, and several friends from different corners of life (including this one) have also taken their not-so-holy orders from the ULC. The group exists without formal tenets, hierarchy, services or anything other than providing an outlet for blessing wherever either a secular authority or a personal preference calls for it.  If that's not a way for God to make Himself known in a mysterious way, I don't know what is.

Apparently, though, there are some United Methodists, who are smarter and pointier-headed than I am, who disagree- and who consider the possession of such credentials to be immediate grounds for excommunication.

Which brings us to Ginny.

----

It might help a bit to understand how Methodists get to be clergy; I've never been within a cubit of that "call," but I've been around the place long enough to know the drill.  The process begins at the local church where the member belongs. Maybe she's just a regular participant; perhaps she had the lay speaker training that I did (twice, roughly 40 years apart); whatever.  The local church gets first call on "the call" to ordained ministry, and if they believe the candidate would do well at it, her name is turned in to the Board of Ordained Ministry.

That's right. BOOM.  It's called this in the official lit.

They then go through a tl;dr combination of academic, United Methodist-specific and even psychological testings before winding up at the end of a number of roads- all with various titles, statuses and job security attached. Ginny happened to be one along the path to ordained ministry in a United Methodist conference in Michigan, acting at a "local pastor" level- which is more than a lay speaker but less than clergy.  Acting, that is, until she felt another "call:" as the author of her story linked above tells it, she

sought online ordination through the Universal Life Church to help a pastor, who had recently been removed from service for being gay, get married to his partner. A number of United Methodist clergy would have celebrated the service themselves except for the prohibition the church currently holds over its clergy.

Seeking such credentials to perform any marriage is suspect; certainly it would be very problematic in a tradition that held marriage as a sacrament. For the record The United Methodist Church does not. If I was a traditionalist, I would likely see Mikita’s actions as underhanded just as some progressives see it as a necessary act against injustice.

What came next was somewhat surprising. Three United Methodist clergy from North Carolina, Texas and New Jersey, with no known connection to the situation, wrote a letter to Mikita’s District Superintendent and Bishop asserting that she had “automatically forfeited her standing as a member in The United Methodist Church and as a certified candidate for ministry.” Subsequently, the District Superintendent in question, the Rev. Bill Haggard, informed Mikita that each had indeed been revoked.

I've read the letter; the link above links to it. It is vindictive, judgmental and legalistic. It takes as accepted fact that ordination in a mail-order church with no stated beliefs is inherently inconsistent with even lay membership in our denomination- one with mostly good but a number of noxious beliefs, and almost all of the noxious ones dealing with our treatment of LGBT people.

Even weirder is that two of the three authors of the inquisitory letter are leaders of a mushy Methodist compromise movement called "Via Media"- literally "middle way," but often transliterated into "third way." It's an attempt to prevent a complete schism of United Methodists by allowing each individual church and pastor to make its/his/her own determination as to whether LGBT people can serve as clergy or be joined in holy matrimony within it. The right wing hates it; the left wing hates it somewhat less, but has hardly embraced it.  Now, two of the movement's three attributed founders have shown their animus to the very people the "way" was intended to save:

It seems that “Via Media” in today’s vernacular means “There’s the Door.”

So we now continue to have alleged servants of Jesus ratting out their clergy for following their hearts and marrying their own parishioners, in some cases their own children- and while many parts of the country have put the brakes on the resulting witch trials, they are continuing in many other parts. Our own conference's bishop has yet to either bring one to defrocking or call off the dogs on the issue in general.  Even worse, we now have clergy from other parts of the country ratting out laity for following THEIR own hearts, if that "call" also involved a call to the Universal Life Church, and stripping them of their rights to faithfully participate in the prayers, presence, giving, service and witness of the very congregations that are largely dying on the vine because nobody wants to be there anymore.

It took almost 30 years, but I am now married to one of those. And if this shit keeps falling down the way it's been, it won't be long before she'll be married to one of them, as well.

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Comments
glenmarshall From: glenmarshall Date: September 7th, 2015 02:18 am (UTC) (Link)
I've collected ordinations: ULC (Minister, Saint, and honorary Doctor of Divinity), Church of the Latter-Day Dude, Open Ministry, Pastafarian, Discordian Pope, an Wiccan. I don't know what all that makes me, but at least now I'm sure I'm ineligible to be a Methodist.
yesididit2 From: yesididit2 Date: September 7th, 2015 02:50 pm (UTC) (Link)
i see it as this womans religion is her choice. she can take it or leave it at any time. sexual orientation is not a choice. you dont just decide to 'not be gay' anymore. it doesnt work like that.

so why is her CHOICE in religions more important than someone elses (guaranteed by law) right to marriage? how can she justify her personal choice in religion as superseding someones LEGAL rights to marriage? ugh. what an idiot.
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