On May 7, 2016, Rev. David Meredith and Jim Schlachter were married at Broad St. United Methodist Church in Columbus, Ohio. A committed couple for over 30 years, Rev. Meredith and Mr. Schlachter invited the church to recognize–in their relationship, in Rev. Meredith’s ministry, and in the community that embraces them–love that transcends policies and prejudices. Their ceremony was a witness to all that the church can be–at its best–a place where relationships thrive, love is centric, and discrimination has no part.
Predictably, complaints were filed immediately against Rev. Meredith. Over the last year and a half, the process has unfolded with no viable resolution. Yesterday, the Committee on Investigation shared with Rev. Meredith that two of the three complaints have been dismissed. The remaining charge is for “disobedience to the order and Discipline of the church” based on paragraph 341.6 in the Book of Discipline which states that “Ceremonies that celebrate homosexual unions shall not be conducted by our ministers and shall not be conducted in our churches.”
Rev. David Meredith celebrated the dismissal of the two complaints regarding his sexuality as a clergy person and his relationship to his husband, noting that the work for justice continues–both in his complaint process moving forward and for the church at large.
On the heels of Judicial Council taking place next week where three cases relate to sexuality and discrimination in The United Methodist Church, the news from the Committee on Investigation is bittersweet.
There is celebration in the dismissal of two complaints that are rooted in nothing more than prejudice and discrimination, and at the same time, the continuation of the third charge is a painful example of the denomination’s willingness to continue enacting harm against its LGBTQ members.
Jan Lawrence, Interim Executive Director of RMN, spoke to the work that remains before us saying, “We give thanks for the witness of Rev. Meredith. He has and continues to face great consequences for his commitment to integrity, justice, and love. We hope the Network will continue to support him and keep him in prayer as the process moves forward. As we head toward Judicial Council next week and toward the special called General Conference in 2019, we are reminded today of the urgency of God’s call upon our lives. Every day the discriminatory policies of the denomination remain in place is a day too long.”
As long as the threat of a trial looms over any LGBTQ person or ally, the work of creating justice in the denomination presses upon us.
Like Rev. Meredith did in 2016, we are also invited to live and act according to our faith first–not in 2019, but now–today and everday. The opportunity to choose Love is given to each of us, despite the policies in the Book of Discipline. We remain committed to supporting every lay person, pastor, committee, and congregation who models Biblical Obedience by choosing Love, refusing to persecute any of God’s beloved children because of who they are, and modeling for the rest of the denomination what it really means to be church.
For more information, visit Affirm Inclusion.