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Pro-homosexuality Annual Conference Officials Refuse To Try Open Lesbian Pastor, Again

From: umcornet@yahoo.com
Sent: Wednesday, December 17, 2003 5:49 PM
To: UMCalledOut@yahoogroups.com
Subject: [CALLED OUT] Rev. Karen Dammann Decision Postponed to Jan. 12

Tuesday, December 16, 2003 Rev. Karen Dammann Decision Postponed to Jan. 12

>From the Pacific Northwest Reconciling Ministries Network, an unofficial network of United Methodists.

Des Moines, WA-- For the second time this year, a committee of her clergy peers has declined to send the Rev. Karen Dammann to a church trial, which could eject her from the ordained ministry. At least, not yet. She is pastor of the Ellensburg (WA) United Methodist Church.

The Pacific Northwest Annual Conference's Committee on Investigation meeting here today did not reach a decision on her case, and will reconvene Jan. 12. Its choice whether to send her case to a church trial is expected that day.

Earlier, Ms. Dammann had written to her Bishop that she needed to live openly and honestly in their parsonage with her long-term female partner and their son. A complaint was then filed against Ms. Dammann by Bishop Elias Galvan, Seattle, based on "practices declared by The United Methodist Church to be incompatible with Christian teaching" (Discipline Para. 2702.1.b). These include those of a self-avowed practicing homosexual.

Her case had gone originally to this same United Methodist Pacific Northwest Annual Conference Committee on Investigation. When that committee did not charge her, the Bishop forwarded his complaint to a regional Committee on Appeals, and finally to the Judicial Council, the denomination's highest court of appeals.

Recently the Judicial Council remanded the case back to the PNW Conference Committee, virtually directing the state body to rehear the case and send it to a church trial. But again today, the Committee on Investigation did not take that action, which would have required a super majority vote.

"Today the postponement of decision was about more than me," Ms. Dammann told RMN. While the committee's testimony and discussions are secret, she admitted: "Several on the committee seemed to believe that even the national Judicial Council does not have the authority to direct the verdict which a Conference Committee must make."

Thus the committee's decision on the Dammann case may have denomination-wide ramifications—virtually a "states rights vs. national authority" issue. A subsequent question is whether the Discipline prevents any further appeal, as seems to be the case. Today the committee obviously chose to take the time necessary to make sure of its ground before a decision is rendered.

Asked how she felt after the committee's postponement, the Rev. Ms. Dammann simply said: "I'm very eager to get back to my work as pastor in Ellensburg, especially at this holy, busy time of the year. Today I feel even more called to Christian ministry than I did a year ago. This wonderful congregation has affirmed my call and welcomes my ministry. The members have been totally supportive, as together we form a community of Christ. If we have to wait another month for the decision, I will be about the work of the church."

--By Paul Beeman. Contact at: paulbeeman@aol.com

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