FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Affirm Inclusion Resist Exclusion
Gay United Methodist Pastor Appeals NCJ Decision
March 29,2018, Cincinnati – The legal team of United Methodist minister David Meredith has appealed the decision of the NCJ Committee on Appeals that remanded West Ohio’s favorable finding. Rev. Meredith’s appeal asserts that fair process was not upheld in the North Central Jurisdiction proceedings.
“Where in the Book of Discipline does it say that the person most affected by a legal process is not permitted a voice on matters most directly affecting them? It goes against everything we believe about justice and fair process in our denomination, in our world,” said Rev. Meredith, pastor of the Clifton United Methodist Church in Cincinnati.
David had no voice at March 9th’s proceedings with the North Central Jurisdiction Committee on Appeals. The West Ohio Committee on Investigation was dubbed the “respondent.” An attempted objection from David’s team before the hearing yielded the rebuke that David was not the respondent and had no legal standing. Neither David nor his legal representative, Rev. Dr. Pamela Lightsey of Meadville Lombard Theological School, were permitted to speak at the March 9th hearing.
As the legal team filed the appeal, Rev. Meredith noted, “In this holiest of weeks in the Christian tradition, it is imperative to resist all religious leaders who repeat the same corrupt practices as the ones used against Jesus.”
Rev. Meredith faced complaints for being gay and married after his May 2016 wedding to Jim Schlachter. The West Ohio review did not certify those complaints. Without Rev. Meredith’s voice, the NCJ Committee on Appeals told the West Ohio Committee on Investigations to reconsider their decision about him.
Adding insult to injury, while decisions about Rev. Meredith were made in front of him without his voice, his supporters were stifled. Despite advance notice to the Indianapolis Hilton and the NCJ Committee that hundreds of supporters were expected, the 180-person hearing room was set up with only 50 chairs, hotel security monitored the doors for the committee, a police offer was employed to intimidate compliance, and no audio or video streaming was allowed.
The appeal from David’s team asserts that fair process was not upheld by the North Central Jurisdiction. The judicial wheels continue to turn while David continues to faithfully serve his congregation, his community of Cincinnati, and the larger United Methodist world.
“This is not just about my case, or that of other gay and lesbian clergy. This is about fair process for all clergy everywhere. In the United Methodist denomination different authorities are empowered by the Spirit to discern and decide. Some people want homosexuality and same-gender marriage to be instant punishment for clergy, with no due process,” Rev. Meredith offered. “This is not the way of The United Methodist Church, and it is not the way of justice.”