UMC on TRIAL
NYAC elder and Yale scholar being tried for officiating at son’s wedding
Rev. Dr. Thomas W. Ogletree is a United Methodist minister and a distinguished theologian whose scholarly expertise is Christian ethics. On October 20, 2012, he presided over the wedding of his son, Thomas Rimbey Ogletree, to Nicholas Haddad. Tom describes this as “one of the most significant ritual acts of my life as a pastor.” He performed this legal wedding (in New York State) knowing that the United Methodist Church bans such ceremonies but convinced that he could not with any integrity turn down his son’s request to do it.
On October 24, 2012, a complaint was filed against him after the wedding was publicized in the New York Times wedding announcements. The complaint set in motion a disciplinary process within the church that has now resulted in Bishop Martin McLee referring the case to church counsel (the equivalent of a prosecutor) to draw up formal charges, which are expected to lead to a trial.
- More about Tom
- What you can do to help
- MIND statement on the Ogletree case
- MIND press release
- New York Times article: "Caught in Methodism's Split Over Same-Sex Marriage"
- Tom's op ed in the Washington Post: "Why I disobeyed the United Methodist Church's unjust teaching on same-sex marriage"
- Tom’s blog on the RMN blog: “Reason and Experience: United Methodist Resources for Correcting Our Course”
- Additional media coverage and opinion pieces on the case
- MEDIA INQUIRIES: Please contact Dr. Dorothee Benz, 718-314-4432
This case is the first one headed to a church trial since the emergence of the national marriage initiative movement in the UMC in the last two years. These initiatives are collective public commitments of UMC clergy to defy the rules banning same-sex ceremonies and to extend their ministries to all couples, gay and straight, on an equal basis. Tom is a signer of the Covenant of Conscience, the foundational document of MIND’s We do! Methodists Living Marriage Equality project, which is the marriage initiative in the New York Annual Conference.
The emergence of this national movement represents a growing crisis of authority for the United Methodist Church brought on by its own stubborn insistence to continue to discriminate even as the nation seems finally ready to grant gays and lesbians the civil right to marry.
Tom’s action was entirely consistent with the longstanding opposition of the New York Annual Conference to the UMC’s prejudice and discrimination against LGBT people. It is specifically consistent with the conference’s official position that the UMC requirement to discriminate in matters of marriage inhibits appropriate pastoral freedom for pastors to minister to their congregations. Our conference has, as a matter of official record, called on its members to exercise restraint in filing charges against one another for the exercise of such pastoral freedom and has furthermore stated that “those who take punitive actions against others for offering the sacraments and rituals of the church on an equal basis do so contrary to the historic expression of the New York Annual Conference at the risk of causing grave harm to LGBT persons, their loved ones, their sisters and brothers in Christ, faithful clergy and the annual conference itself.”