Lesbian United Methodist Ministers ‘Wed’ in Seattle Despite Possible Church Discipline

umcSEATTLE — Two United Methodist ministers recently ‘wed’ each other in a ceremony in Seattle, Washington despite the possibility that they could face disciplinary action for violating Church law.

Joanne Carlson Brown, 60, of Tibbetts United Methodist Church and Christie Newbill, 65, of Woodland Park United Methodist Church tied the knot at a ceremony at Brown’s church on December 7th. District Superintendent Patricia Simpson officiated the ceremony, which was attended by approximately 300 supporters.

“Our marriage is our statement for declaring to our friends and family, in the presence of God, our love and commitment for one another,” Brown told the United Methodist News Service. “I never considered this as [a statement] against the United Methodist Church.”

Simpson said that she prayed about officiating the ceremony before she agreed to perform the union.

“We don’t do these things casually,” she told local television station KING 5. “I believe it was a faithful decision.”

However, the Book of Discipline outlines that “the practice of homosexuality is incompatible with Christian teaching” and that “self-avowed practicing homosexuals” may not be ordained as ministers in the denomination. It also forbids ministers from hosting or participating in “ceremonies that celebrate homosexual unions.”

Consequently, Brown and Newbill—as well as Simpson—could be disciplined or defrocked for violating Church doctrine.

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“[This could lead] to losing my ordination, which could pain me to no end,” Brown acknowledged.

She told reporters that she doesn’t see her relationship as being sinful.

“I approach the Discipline the way I approach the Bible,” Brown stated. “My hermeneutic coming both to the Scriptures and the Discipline is that the Gospel is a Gospel of radical love and liberation, and anything that does not speak the word of radical love and liberation is not of God.”

But Newbill advised that she viewed her decision as being more important than upholding the Book of Discipline.

“Living my life true to myself and to God—and authentically with everyone else—I think that is the most important thing,” she said.

As previously reported, just last week, a United Methodist Minister in Pennsylvania who officiated his son’s same-sex “wedding” was defrocked after refusing to voluntarily give up his credentials. Frank Schaefer, 51, who led Zion United Methodist Church of Iona in Lebanon, was found guilty in November of “conducting a ceremony that celebrates same-sex unions” and “disobedience to order and discipline of the Methodist Church.”

In 2007, he traveled to Massachusetts to officiate a ceremony between his son Tim and Tim’s homosexual partner.

“The love for my son took over the fear of losing my job with the United Methodist Church,” Schaefer told the Lebanon Daily News. “It was a tough decision in some sense, but I just knew I had to make it. I had to follow my heart.”

When he refused to repent, and even wore a rainbow stole to show his advocacy for homosexuality, he was ordered to repent within 30 days or hand in his credentials. He refused to do either, and was officially defrocked on Thursday.

“This episode highlights the importance of churches in all traditions protecting themselves and the cause of Christ by carefully screening would-be pastors for biblical grounding and moral character, and having effective means of accountability,” John Lomperis, director of the Institute on Religion and Democracy, told Religion News Service. “He was not the first United Methodist minister to be defrocked for crossing these lines and will not be the last.”

Photo: King 5

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  • Phoebe

    Romans 1:23-32

    22 Professing themselves to be wise, they became fools,

    23 And changed the glory of the uncorruptible God into an image made like to corruptible man, and to birds, and fourfooted beasts, and creeping things.

    24 Wherefore God also gave them up to uncleanness through the lusts of their own hearts, to dishonour their own bodies between themselves:

    25 Who changed the truth of God into a lie, and worshipped and served the creature more than the Creator, who is blessed for ever. Amen.

    26 For this cause God gave them up unto vile affections: for even their women did change the natural use into that which is against nature:

    27 And likewise also the men, leaving the natural use of the woman, burned in their lust one toward another; men with men working that which is unseemly, and receiving in themselves that recompense of their error which was meet.

    28 And even as they did not like to retain God in their knowledge, God gave them over to a reprobate mind, to do those things which are not convenient;

    29 Being filled with all unrighteousness, fornication, wickedness, covetousness, maliciousness; full of envy, murder, debate, deceit, malignity; whisperers,

    30 Backbiters, haters of God, despiteful, proud, boasters, inventors of evil things, disobedient to parents,

    31 Without understanding, covenant breakers, without natural affection, implacable, unmerciful:

    32 Who knowing the judgment of God, that they which commit such things are worthy of death, not only do the same, but have pleasure in them that do them.

    It doesn’t get any plainer than this folks.

  • Darren Boehm

    Judgment appears to be getting closer to the great nation of the USA as we see more and more of this wickedness appearing. The church is to be the Moral compass in a dark society and now that compass appears to be broken. The words of this woman Priest is fitting words
    I quote “She told reporters that she doesn’t see her relationship as being sinful.

    “I approach the Discipline the way I approach the Bible,” Brown stated. “My hermeneutic coming both to the Scriptures and the Discipline is that the Gospel is a Gospel of radical love and liberation, and anything that does not speak the word of radical love and liberation is not of God ”

    these words will be the Damning judgment for this woman who has violated Gods word on a woman teaching a man she has violated the sanctity of marriage in the name of God and she has violated the interpretation of scripture twisting it to suit her lifestyle of sin

  • Karate Kathleen

    These ladies knew what the rules of their employment were, what the rules of their licensure as pastors were, and agreed to those conditions. Now they both decide they want to do what they want and forget their commitment to God & their employers-the church. Yet they want to keep their jobs & pastoral licenses?! No way! They need defrocked. They are now just following their own created version of Christianity and are hoping to “force” others to go their way. This is wrong.

  • It’s Wrong

    Isaiah 5:20 (KJV)
    Proverbs 17:13 (KJV)
    Psalm 18:24-27 (KJV)
    Psalm 101:3-5 (KJV)
    Psalm 2:4 (KJV)
    Galatians 6:7 (KJV)
    Romans 1:26-32 (KJV)

  • Angela Melton

    First off I don’t believe women should be ministers…Teachers yes…but not “clergy”…secondly I have a real problem with a minister being gay….How can you teach the bible and be gay….It is wrong…its an abomination…The devil has you fooled and you shall see…I will pray for your eyes to be opened….

    • Sharon

      It is wrong just like having a preacher who is known to lie constantly, be drunk without repentance or a single preacher who sleeps around. I do not think those things would be acceptable for any preacher of the Christian faith. What is the difference? There is none. So why would anyone accept a person who openly sleeps with someone of the same sex? There is no difference, yet people try to make it different.
      People are born pedophiles or sociopaths aren’t they? If someone wants to say people are born gay (though no “gay” gene has ever been found), that would mean we are bigots for not supporting pedophiles.
      The entire thing just makes no sense to me.

  • Gardner Girl

    I have observed these arguments between people that say they are Christians before. What I have come to believe is that people are trying to fit the Bible into their beliefs rather than developing their beliefs from the Bible. The Bible does say that homosexuality is a sin. When we quote that it doesn’t mean we hate the homosexuals, it just means that we are quoting what God’s word says. If you have a problem with that take it up with God as He is the one that said it. Homosexuality is a sin and therefore same sex marriage is also a sin. I am a Christian who believes what the Bible says. But I don’t hate homosexuals and do my best to treat them the same as I would treat others. That said, I believe that a homosexual should not be a pastor and teach God’s Word as they will not teach the truth. In the end its between God and the person. If they repent of their sin, that would be true for any sin, God will forgive them. but if they don’t then the consequences are the same as for any sin. God is the same yesterday, today and forever. He never speaks against His word.

  • Aaron

    Marriage is between a man and a woman!! period! end of discussion. God clearly defined marriage in the bible, one man, one woman, the two shall become one flesh! Hate the sin, not the sinners!