Lesbian Pastor to Face Church Trial

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Rev. Karen Dammann is to face a United Methodist Church trial for disclosing that she is living in a partnered lesbian relationship.

She was sent for trial following a 5-2 verdict at hearing by Committee on Investigation of the Pacific Northwest Conference of The United Methodist Church.

United Methodist Church “law”, the Discipline, prohibits practicing homosexuals from being clergy.

It was her second hearing before the investigating committee. The first was in July 2002, following her admission in a February 2001 letter to Bishop Elias Galvan that stated: “I am living in a partnered, covenanted, homosexual relationship”. At that first hearing, a 3-3 verdict (with one abstention) was given, meaning that there was no case to answer – Five votes in favour are required to send a case to trail.

This decision was appealed to the Committee on Investigation to the Western Jurisdiction Committee on Appeals, which voted 4-3 last January to uphold the committee’s decision to dismiss the charge against the Rev. Dammann.

Again, there was an appeal, which was heard by the full The Judicial Council of the church which last October reversed the action of the Western Jurisdiction Committee on Appeals, instructing the case be remanded to the Annual Conference Committee on Investigation for a new hearing. In addition, the Judicial Council instructed members of the committee who were unwilling to uphold the Discipline, and effectively sent the case to a full church court hearing “must step aside in this matter.”

According to the Northwest United Methodist Church, one person on the committee stepped down. But there were two who ignored the edict from Council “to uphold the Discipline”.

In a statement, the Pacific Northwest UMC said: “Bishop Galvan will designate another Bishop to convene and preside at a trial court sometime during 2004. Jurors will be selected from a pool of clergy persons named by the district superintendents of the conference.

“The Rev. Dammann continues to serve under appointment as pastor of Ellensburg United Methodist Church in central Washington State.”