EDGERTON, Kan. — A reverend is being removed from the pulpit, after she came out as a gay woman to the congregation at Edgerton United Methodist Church.
Reverend Cynthia Meyer will lead the church until September 13. After that she will be in what amounts to exile from her ordained ministry in the United Methodist Church.
The United Methodist Church doctrine is based on the premise that all people are of sacred worth. At the same time, it believes homosexuality to be incompatible to the Christian teaching.
Gay people are welcome to worship, but may not be married in the church nor serve as clergy. The reverend’s big announcement was in hopes that she could affect a big change within the church.
Reverend Meyer says she was more comfortable stepping into the pulpit on January 3, 2016 than any other in her 25 years serving the United Methodist Church.
It was Epiphany Sunday, with her partner of 4 years, Mary Palarino, sitting in the sanctuary, the reverend told her truth.
“At last I am choosing to serve in that role with full authenticity, as my genuine self, as a woman who loves and shares my life with another woman,” the reverend said.
“It’s very difficult to live a double life and it’s very difficult to step into a pulpit where you are talking about being authentically who you are and how god loves you as you are, and not be open,” Reverend Meyer told FOX 4’s Shannon O’Brien on Thursday.
The reverend said she knew at that moment her career was most likely over. Charges within the church were brought against her, which sparked several discussions with church leaders.
After a final 13-hour negotiation Monday, Reverend Meyer signed a separation agreement, known in the church as a justified resolution.
“I did agree to sign that agreement although I do not feel that it is just nor a resolution,” said Meyer. “I am the same pastor now as I was before I was in this relationship, and before I spoke openly about it and I would hope the church as a body of Christians, followers of Jesus, would grasp that reality.”
That contradiction, Reverend Meyer said, is spelled out in the United Methodist Church Book of Discipline which says ‘self-avowed, practicing homosexuals’ are not allowed to serve as clergy.
“It’s disappointing that we were not able to remove discrimination from our official policies and practices. Even this spring after the laws in the land have changed and so much more has changed,” she said.
Scott Jones, bishop of the Great Plains Conference of the United Methodist Church made the following statement regarding Reverend Meyer’s situation:
“United Methodist Church is not of one mind regarding the practice of homosexuality. When Cynthia Meyer preached her sermon, we were put in the position with no good options. The agreement reached Monday night balances accountability to the laws of the church with concern for Cynthia’s well-being. It is no small matter, she is being given one year’s salary in advance and retains her credentials on leave while the worldwide United Methodist Church considers this matter.”
There has been a change in some of the districts within the Methodist church, says Reverend Meyer, because some of them simply don’t follow the rules.
Recently, in the Western District, the first gay bishop was elected, a lesbian in San Francisco.
Reverend Meyer says she cannot even guess how that will go over long-term, but she hopes the acceptance will spread and she will someday be able to minister again.