Details of penalty for Rev. Amy DeLong

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After more than six hours of deliberations, a jury of 13 United Methodist clergy voted 9-4 to suspend the Rev. Amy DeLong for 20 days beginning July 1.

The suspension, the jury wrote, is to be used for spiritual discernment in preparation for a process seeking to restore the broken clergy covenant relationship.

The process is to include:

  1. An open and collaborative communication, which shall include the Rev. Amy DeLong; Wisconsin Area Bishop Linda Lee, the Rev. Jorge Mayorga Solis (DeLong’s district superintendent), the Rev. Richard Strait (chair of the Wisconsin Conference Board of Ordained Ministry), and a Wisconsin United Methodist elder of DeLong’s choosing.
  2. DeLong will initiate a written document outlining procedures for clergy in order to help resolve issues that harm the clergy covenant, create an adversarial spirit or lead to future clergy trials. The document shall be informed by the Bible, the 2008 Book of Discipline, Judicial Council rulings and other relevant materials.
  3. DeLong will write the first draft in collaboration with the persons named above and will present that draft to the conference board of ordained ministry by Jan. 1.
  4. After review and edit by DeLong and the people named in the first point, the final document will be completed in time to be distributed to the clergy of the Wisconsin Conference before the 2012 annual conference gathering, to be acted on in the 2012 clergy session.

Failure by DeLong to comply with the requirements will result in a suspension from the exercise of the functions of an ordained elder of The United Methodist Church for a period of a year beginning June 3, 2012.

Approval of a penalty by the jury required at least seven votes.

United Methodist News Service reporter Heather Hahn and photographer Mike DuBose are covering the trial and will post coverage here as well as on the UMNS Facebook page and Flickr.


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  1. Ginger

    Here’s the debate simply put: Is homosexuality still a sin? Yes..Jesus had sinners in his company and loved them, but expected the prostitute to stop her ways. The difference here is…homosexual Christians want to continue to be homosexuals..(not that I believe a person can stop being a homosexual). This is one issue I’m currently up in the air about. I pray that God’s will be done.

  2. Juliann

    Rev. McBride
    I applaud your commitment to both your call and the church. Your words will resonate with a majority of Methodists today. You did what many would find difficult or impossible to do.. arm chair Q-backs not withstanding. Thank you!

  3. Rev. Gary Cole

    jimextwi said…

    We have a set of rules that must be followed and apparently these folks who have been charged with upholding the standards have failed to read and follow the rules.

    I’m one of the thirteen “these folks” you condemn. I can only speak for myself. I did read the rules; I did follow the presiding bishop’s instructions; and I did consider the evidence brought forth by the church counsel and the respondent’s counsel. The respondent was convicted of the first charge unanimously because the trial court applied the rule.

    bepraying said…

    Wow, she even admitted to being a practicing homosexual and was acquitted. What would someone have to do to be convicted?

    You are misinformed. She did not avow that she was a practicing homosexual and the church counsel failed to bring the evidence required by the governing judicial council decision for a conviction.

    Again, speaking only for myself, the respondent was acquitted not because I did not read the rules, but because I did. The burden of proof set out by the Judicial Council was nowhere close to being met. The charge was so poorly investigated and presented that it should have been clear to the church counsel beforehand that the burden of proof could not be met with the information presented.

    The trial court followed the rules and people on all sides did not like the results. If you are unhappy – change the rules.

    June 24, 2011 4:10 PM

  4. Jeff Bennett

    I agree with Michael; it really is a question of the covenant we share as elders in the United Methodist Church. The historic questions we were all asked at our ordination (para 336 in the 2004 Discipline) include questions about our rules and doctrines, whether we believe them to be “in harmony with the Holy Scriptures” and whether we will keep them.

    Seeking to change those rules with which you have come to disagree is honorable. To withdraw from our denomination because you now disagree with the rules you once agreed to is honorable; you’re certainly no less a Christian for it. Breaking the rules with which you disagree… this cuts against the covenant we entered into with one another.

    This said, I see no reason to think that the jury in the case of the Rev. Amy DeLong was less than faithful in keeping our rules. I certainly don’t envy them the task they were given. At the end of the day I trust that they have been faithful to the covenant we share.


  5. Rev. Gary Cole

    Thank you, Jeff. I trust that it is clear from the penalty given that the breaking of the covenant was a concern of the trial court.

  6. Michael

    Thank you for your candor Rev. McBride. I think it will only be through honest and direct dialogue that we might come to an understanding on this or any other subject.
    I think it best to answer each point individually, so here goes.
    The issues with Jesus breaking covenant is moot. To my knowledge, and perhaps I have missed something, Jesus was never a member of any sect, Pharisee or Sadducee. Not being a member of any sect, Jesus could not have broken and covenant with them. In Matthew 5.17, Jesus states “Do not think that I have come to abolish the Law or the Prophets; I have not come to abolish them but to fulfill them.” The issue with Jesus was not breaking covenant but fulfilling it, so Jesus did break covenant although He did confront the moral and ethical issues of His day in regard to them.
    I applaud the fact that you would like to restore covenant with Ms. DeLong. Our faith certainly espouses the ideals of restoration and redemption as central. But the question becomes, is restoration without repentance truly restoration? According to the UMNS newswire, Ms. DeLong stated, “that she has called herself “a self-avowed practicing homosexual” because that is what The Book of Discipline, the denomination’s law book, calls her.” She went on to say about her partner, “Val is the love of my life; I can’t imagine my life without her,” The truth of the matter is that while Ms.DeLong is free to be in this relationship as a human being, she is not free to do so as a practicing member of the UMC clergy. The Discipline is clear on the matter and she either agrees to uphold the Discipline according to her vows or break covenant.
    My understanding is that the penalty imposed is a collaborative paper “outlining procedures for clergy in order to help resolve issues that harm the clergy covenant, create an adversarial spirit or lead to future clergy trials.” While this is certainly a worthy attempt to redefine for Ms. DeLong her responsibilities in covenant with other clergy of the UMC, I think it is clear she has no intentions of renouncing her lifestyle or her beliefs on the issue. Does she plan on giving up a sixteen year relationship with her partner? Is she going refuse to perform weddings that she obviously is fighting to have recognized as legitimate? Perhaps but I seriously doubt it. As to my idea of a penalty, Ms. DeLong should be welcome to be restored to the covenant she made with the elders and the United Methodist church if she chooses, abiding by the governance set down in the Discipline or choose to minister in another denomination.
    The issue at hand is complicated and how we as a church address it will have bearing on our ministry and its effectiveness for years to come. I pray that we can do so with grace and mercy, while still holding ourselves to the doctrinal standards we have come to believe.
    Jesus did not have to create a new version of the law, He simply clarified it. And yes Jesus advocated that we love the Lord our God with all of our heart, soul, mind and spirit and our neighbor as ourself. But we have twisted this idea of love to the point it is cheapened. The love we are called to not only is unconditional and extravagant but calls us to hold one another accountable as God holds us accountable. Consider Revelation 3.19 where He says, “Those whom I love, I reprove and discipline, so be zealous and repent.” In the same way a parent holds a child accountable for their actions, God holds us accountable for ours. And while Jesus paid the ultimate price for our sins on the cross, we still have to choose repentance and choose holiness.

  7. Cheesecake Maven

    All of these very silly arguments about whether or not a Methodist clergy can or should marry a homosexual couple will be moot in just one or two more generations. Seriously, our children are beyond this issue, it is simply not something on their radar at all. They accept others, period. What IS on the minds of the young people is the enormous debt and mess we are leaving behind for them to have to somehow pay for with lower wage jobs, fewer jobs, etc. Really folks, this will be a non-issue for our children’s generation and for their children’s generation. Change the United Methodist Church’s outdated covenants, or see more and more enlightened members leave the church, just as we did several years ago. Our morals and ethics could no longer find a home in an organization that discriminated against so many of our close friends and family members. The work of any church should be humanitarian efforts to help feed and support the poor, etc. The work of the church should not be to discriminate against so many loving people.

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