From: [name removed]
Sent: Tuesday, June 28, 2005 8:42 AM
Subject: Pastor John
I am a United Methodist Pastor and enjoyed your site.
You have got to follow this link and read what just happened in the Virginia
Annual Conference of the UMC
Bishop Kamerer put a minister on unpaid leave until he recants his position
of not allowing a self-avowed homosexual to join the UM Church he was
This is outrageous but has not hit the news. WHY? The Virginia clergy
session of annual conference was sworn to confidentiality or threatened that
if they talked they would be put on unpaid leave also.
Get this out there!
Pastor [name removed]
Local minister placed on involuntary leave
Refusal to admit homosexual as member an issue
By Mike Bollinger
SOUTH HILL - A controversial national issue has made its presence felt in
the local area as a South Hill minister has been placed on "involuntary
leave of absence" after refusing to admit a homosexual member to his church.
The Rev. Edward Johnson of South Hill United Methodist Church has been
placed on a one-year, unpaid leave, according to the Rev. W. Anthony Layman,
district superintendent for the Petersburg District of the Virginia
Conference of the United Methodist Church.
"The pastor has been placed on an involuntary leave of absence by the board
of ordained ministry after a vote in executive session," Layman said Monday.
A congregation member said Monday that Layman along with Bishop Charlene P.
Kammerer visited South Hill Methodist Sunday and explained the situation to
Layman would make no comment Monday other than to say Johnson has been
placed on leave. Associate Pastor Lee Warren also declined to comment
further Monday. No church officials would speak on the record about why
Johnson was placed on leave.
Gary Creamer, a member of South Hill UMC, said Monday that the sexual
preference of the prospective member was the reason for Johnson's being
placed on leave. Creamer said he echoed the opinion of many other members
"I feel Rev. Johnson was holding to Biblical principle in denying membership
to that individual," Creamer said. "I feel extremely sad and grieved. I feel
a terrible injustice was done."
Creamer said he has not yet decided whether he will continue to attend the
"I haven't made up my mind whether to leave or to stay and be a part of the
loyal opposition," he said.
The decision to place Johnson on leave was made, Creamer believes, without
taking into account the feelings of the local congregation. Church members
were "completely excluded" from the process, he said.
"I just feel like the congregation as a whole was ignored," he said. "I
don't think anyone had any idea of the gravity of what was going on."
Creamer said he did not believe the church would react in such a harsh way
in response to Johnson's actions.
Reached for comment Monday, Kammerer would not comment on the details of
Johnson's leave. To do so, she said, would violate his confidentiality.
She said the United Methodist Church is guided by the Book of Discipline,
which is reviewed globally by elected delegates every four years. Any
portion of that book may be amended during these reviews, she said.
Over the last 30 years, the United Methodist Church has consistently
maintained the prohibition of ordination of gay clergy, Kammerer said.
However, that prohibition does not apply to church membership.
"In regard to membership in the United Methodist Church of laypersons,
homosexuality has not been prohibited as a reason for not accepting
someone," she said.
Kammerer said if Johnson meets terms provided for him while on leave, he
would be reinstated as a United Methodist minister in good standing. In all
probability, he would be reassigned to another church, she said.
"He would be eligible for reappointment, regardless of where it is," she
Layman will meet with the staff-parish committee, the local church personnel
committee, this week and begin work on providing an interim pastor for South
Hill UMC, Kammerer said.
"He will tell them who that person is and why they are a good match. The
committee commented that an interim pastor would be a good request, and we
will work toward that," she said.
Clergy matters are not subject to input from local congregations, according
to Kammerer. She said they are handled in executive session by the board of
ordained ministers, as was done in this case.
"He is accountable to the annual conference as a clergy member. He is not
subject to any one local church," she said.
The process has been ongoing for approximately four months, Kammerer said.
"As Rev. Johnson's bishop, I wish he and his family well and pray for
healing in the life of the congregation in South Hill," she said.
Creamer said the individual in question had been worshipping at the church
for some time and was singing in the choir.
"This person was never discouraged from coming to church. That would be
un-Christian. However, actual membership would be another story," he said.
The congregation, Creamer said, found about the decision late last week. The
decision was made by a vote taken at the Virginia Annual Conference in
Hampton last week, he added.
The Rev. Johnson and the person who sought admission to the church, along
with Denny Hardee, the chairman of the church's staff-parish committee, and
several other church members were all contacted in connection with this
story. All chose not to comment.