Should A Minister Be Disciplined For Officiating A Same-S*x Ceremony?

By Victor Ochieng

A United Methodist Church minister at the University of Iowa is likely to face disciplinary action for officiating a same-s*x ceremony for a fellow female clergy.

Anna Blaedel, who serves as the executive director of the university’s Wesley Student Center, is accused of presiding over the said ceremony on April 4 this year in Oklahoma State. The main reason why she’s under censorship is because she was well aware that the church’s Book of Discipline forbids the clergy from presiding over such ceremonies.

“I knew that officiating at this wedding could cost me my credentials, could cost me my job, could cost me my health insurance and could cost me my income,” she told the Press-Citizen. “But I also knew that saying ‘no’ to one of my best friends would cost me my integrity and my soul.”

Blaedel’s action prompted the Appointive Cabinet of the Iowa Conference to file a unanimous complaint against her, citing involvement in a practice that’s “incompatible with Christian teaching.” The complaint was filed last month and it was this week that she met the cabinet over the matter. She reveals that members of the cabinet were in disagreement over the spiritual harm that Blaedel’s action may have caused and how best to move forward.

Surprisingly, Blaedel is receiving backing from the board of directors of the Wesley Student Center, with the board asserting that it’s United Methodist Church’s policies on such matters that are actually “incompatible with Christian teaching.”

“The board rejects this formal complaint, and the policies of the discipline that it is grounded in, as discriminatory and unjust and laments the disruption of ministry it will cause,” the board wrote in an open letter that was posted online.

The directors even went ahead and said that the church’s policies are discriminatory against the LGBTQ community, adding that such policies don’t conform to Jesus’ teachings. “Such a complaint and such policies have no place in a denomination professing to have open hearts, open minds, and open doors,” the board said.

There is more to this than meets the eye though. The same Blaedel declared in August last year before the Iowa United Methodist Church’s Annual Conference that she was a lesbian.

“I am a ‘self-avowed practicing homos*xual.’ Or, in my language, I am out, queer, partnered clergy,” she announced to the crowd of 1,400 people.

In that case too, complaints were raised but were later dropped by Julius Trimble, a bishop of the Iowa Conference. This was after no resolution was reached because Blaedel declined to let go of her homos*xual lifestyle.