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Lesbian Pastor Pleads Case Before UM Clergy Colleagues, Says Loop-hole Will Allow It

March 24, 2001

Dear Colleague in Ministry,

I want to share with you information on my current request for an appointment. As those of you connected to the Reconciling Ministries Network may have heard, I have formally "come out" to the Bishop, the Cabinet, and the Conference Relations Committee of the Board of Ordained Ministry while asking for an appointment. I have found that I can no longer live the life of a closeted lesbian clergyperson while being faithful to my call to live in honesty and truthfulness as a Christian ordained to the ministry of Word, Order and Sacrament. It is a call I have been aware of since childhood, and have sought to follow all my life. Meredith, my partner of 5 1/2 years, and I are committed to raising our son Beckett in a loving and affirming sense of family that is no longer possible (for us) if we are anything less than honest and open.

At this point, I have written a letter to the Bishop Galvan and District Superintendent Bob Hoshibata indicating my request for an appointment as an openly gay person and I have sent a letter to the Conference Relations Committee asking to come off family leave.

In my case, I believe that the Discipline is in disagreement with itself on how to proceed. Paragraph 304.3 states, "Since the practice of homosexuality is incompatible with Christian teaching, self-avowed practicing homosexuals are not to be accepted as candidates, ordained as ministers, or appointed to serve in The United Methodist Church." (See also paragraph 304.3, note 1.) on the other hand, Paragraph 325.1 states: "Every effective elder in full connection who is in good standing shall be continued under appointment by the Bishop." Based on this second passage, we hope the Bishop will make an appointment. I realize that such an appointment would depend on a congregation willing to receive an "out" pastor and family. I believe that such congregations do exist.

During the past year, while living in the Bay Area, my family has been surrounded by the affirming love of First UMC of San Rafael, California. John Auer, pastor of that church is my advocate and support person in the discernment process that has led us to this point. The congregation is our support community, encouraging me to continue, in open honesty, to follow my calling to the ordained ministry. We are living for the moment in Massachusetts to be near my partner Meredith's family. If I do receive an appointment, we will move back to the Northwest.

My family and I hope for your prayers during this time. In turn, the Annual Conference and all those involved have our prayers. If you have questions, please feel free to email me at karmer9@hotmail.com. I am working nights at a nearby retirement community and taking care of our son full time during the day, so please have patience if I don't get right back to you.

In Christ,

Karen Dammann
P.O. Box 582 
Bondsville, MA 01009

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