The United Methodist Church has taken steps to delay the trial of Rev. Dr. Tom Ogletree, referring the matter back to the resident bishop for another attempt at a “just resolution.” For Tom’s sake and the sake of the church we hope that an end to this persecution is in sight. The complaint against Ogletree has been lingering for 16 months, and we hope the church is beginning to wake up to its acts of oppression and discrimination. RMN stands with our local affiliate MIND in reminding the church that “whatever happens in this case, the problem here is not the trial but the unjust church law that puts pastors on trial for ministering to LGBTQ people.”
RMN calls the church to practice Biblical Obedience—to live the fullness of Scripture and the Book of Discipline, offering the ministry of the church to all people and to ignore immoral, discriminatory restrictions, much as Jesus did when he healed on the Sabbath. Reconciling Ministries Network grieves that our church continues to make the choice to put faithful clergy on trial. We do not believe trials are the answer. Audre Lorde once said:
For the master’s tools will never dismantle the master’s house. They may allow us to temporarily beat him at his own game, but they will never enable us to bring about genuine change. Racism and homophobia are real conditions of all our lives in this place and time. I urge each one of us here to reach down into that deep place of knowledge inside herself and touch that terror and loathing of any difference that lives here. See whose face it wears. Then the personal as the political can begin to illuminate all our choices.
RMN and MIND seek to bring about genuine change. Using the church’s oppressive tools to sweep inequality and injustice under the rug is not justice and does not dismantle an unjust system. Whether the trial moves forward, is delayed, or resolved administratively—trials are the church’s “master’s tools” and they will not dismantle the oppressive system. The tools Jesus taught us of relationship building, living beyond fear, and speaking truth to power—acts of Biblical Obedience—dismantle oppressive systems.
Will you join RMN in praying for resolution that is truly just? Join us in praying for peace and unity in the church. Not a peace and unity that are empty words, but real peace and unity made flesh with the justice, grace, and love of Jesus the Christ. As Audre Lorde suggests, “reach down into that deep place of knowing to illuminate all the choices ahead.”