Anna Golladay, a licensed local pastor serving at Reconciling Congregations St. Marks and St. Elmo United Methodist Churches in Chattanooga, TN, has been fired for performing a queer wedding of two congregants.
Neither church asked for Golladay’s removal, and both were shocked to receive the news on Sunday morning that they would be losing a pastor.
In January, District Superintendent Rev. Randy Martin met with Golladay after hearing a rumor that she had performed a queer wedding. Golladay neither confirmed nor denied this, and at that time Rev. Martin said he would not proceed any further. However, in late February, an anonymous source provided Rev. Martin with a photo from the wedding, prompting him to seek a copy of the marriage license. With these documents, Rev. Martin called a meeting with the District Committee on Ministry.
Two days later, Rev. Martin informed Golladay her appointment had been terminated and her license was stripped, effective immediately.
As a licensed local pastor, without the filing of official charges, Golladay is not guaranteed due process in The UMC.
Golladay recognizes that the harm caused by these decisions in The UMC extends far beyond her, saying, “The continued minimization of our queer friends is not acceptable…My congregations have been irreparably harmed by a decision from the church leadership that could have been handled in a multitude of ways.” You can read more of Golladay’s story from her perspective here.
Unfortunately, harm and injustice for LGBTQ people and allies has been deemed acceptable in The UMC for the last 45 years.
Jan Lawrence, executive director of Reconciling Ministries Network says, “This action was unnecessary, and deprived two churches of a beloved pastor without any input from the congregations. Actions taken against clergy and licensed local pastors during this period, while the Council of Bishops is working on their recommendation to the church, serve only to cause harm. It is unfortunate that there are those who use their authority and the church’s money in this way.”