Support Continues To Pour In For Gay United Methodist Pastor Who Was Fired

Bossi is licensed under CC BY 2.0
Bossi is licensed under CC BY 2.0
Activists, ministers and United Methodist Church members protested the Pastor’s firing.

Rev. Benjamin Hutchison’s case is one of the most recent issues wherein church leaders and employees are being sacked from their posts because of their sexuality. Hutchison is the former pastor of the United Methodist Church in Cassopolis, Michigan who was recently forced to resign for being a member of the LGBT community.

But on July 28, 2015, activists together with ministers and United Methodist Church members have showed their support to Hutchison by protesting at the office of the church’s local Bishop Deborah Lieder Kiesey. And aside from showing support for the fired pastor, protesters have also called to “Stop the Harm” done to the LGBT members by church leaders. Additionally, the UMC clergy present are also pushing for amendments in the church’s Book of Discipline.

In the church’s Book of Discipline, it’s okay to be gay if you are a member but is strictly prohibited for pastors or clergymen. And even if same-sex marriage is already legalized in the country, UMC churches are still prohibited from officiating such weddings.

Hutchison has served the Cassopolis Methodist Church for more than two years. He was good at his job and in those two years, has managed to increase the church’s attendance fourfold. According to him and his followers, Hutchison’s sexual orientation was really not a secret. The congregation was even supportive of him. But early in July, he was called for a meeting by church leaders which eventually resulted to his removal. According to the pastor, he was forced to resign due to threat of being fired if he did not agree to deny his partner.

Upon hearing the news of the pastor’s fate, a lot of parishioners were dismayed of the church’s action and some members even left the church for good. A week after leaving his job, the gay pastor eventually married his partner.

Rev. Benjamin Hutchison is not the only man on the hot seat within the United Methodist Church. In 2013, Rev. Frank Shaefer was also removed from his post after officiating his gay son’s wedding. Rev. Michael Tupper who also did the same thing last year by officiating his daughter’s same-sex wedding was saved from any penalty. Tupper is one of the main supporters of Hutchison and also the one who signed Hutchison’s marriage license.

Tupper plus several other UMC pastors (at least nine) are now facing church investigation and sanctions for being a part and performing key roles in Hutchison’s wedding.

But according to Tupper, he is ready to face the consequences of his actions and even risk his credentials just to stand for what he believes. According to him “I would stand with Jesus reaching out to outsiders and people who were excluded by his society, reaching out and including those and being in a very parallel situation for gay folks who are excluded from our society and our children right now. Jesus would want to love all people and include all people”.

Michigan Area Bishop Kiesey made this statement after and in response with the protest: “I grieve for this painful place in which we currently find ourselves in The United Methodist Church. As we have done in the past, I trust that with God’s help, we will find our way through these difficult times. I ask for your prayers for people on all sides of these issues”.


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