Bishop Martin D. McLee dropped all charges Monday against the Rev. Thomas Ogletree, a Methodist minister, for performing his son’s wedding last fall. McLee is a bishop of the Northeastern Jurisdictional Conference of the United Methodist Church.
“I call for and commit to a cessation of church trials for conducting ceremonies which celebrate homosexual unions or performing same-gender wedding ceremonies and instead offer a process of theological, spiritual and ecclesiastical conversation,” McLee said.
Ogletree, 79, is the retired dean of Yale Divinity School and remains professor Emeritus of Theological Ethics at Yale.
According to the United Methodist Church’s Book of Discipline, “homosexuality is incompatible with Christian teaching.” Anyone within the church may file a complaint and a bishop may elevate the complaint to charges that may result in a minister being defrocked.
Earlier this month, the Rev. Bill McElvaney performed a wedding ceremony in Dallas for a couple that has been together for 53 years. McElvaney is 85 and retired. No complaints have been filed against him yet, but the statute of limitations doesn’t run out for seven years. Several dozen Methodist ministers from around the state attended.
The case is similar to that of the Rev. Frank Schaefer who performed a wedding ceremony for his son. In that case, Schaefer was tried and defrocked in December. He spoke at Cathedral of Hope recently and will return in May to speak at Northaven United Methodist Church.
Schaefer is appealing his defrocking.
“I’m very happy about the church’s decision to drop Rev. Ogletree’s case,” Schaefer wrote on Facebook. “I am also happy to see bishop Martin McLee take a huge step forward to cease all LGBT-related trials. I am not sure if this will have a positive or negative effect on my appeal. I’m hoping for a positive one!”