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US: Bishop says no trials for 36 ministers who blessed same-sex wedding

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A bishop in Philadelphia has said that three dozen ministers who blessed a same-sex wedding last year are no longer subject to disciplinary action and will not face church trials.

In July it was reported that 36 ministers who jointly blessed a same-sex wedding last year risked losing their credentials after complaints were lodged against them.

The wedding, which took place in Philadelphia on 9 November 2013, was as a show of support for Reverend Frank Schaefer who was defrocked following a church trial.

Bishop Peggy Johnson, in moving to announce today that ministers would not face church trials, said future complaints about same-sex weddings would be handled “swiftly and with significant and appropriate consequences.”

According to Philly.com, she said: “Though I may sympathize with the pastoral concerns of the respondents, it is unacceptable to disregard and disobey the Book of Discipline.”

Schaefer – who was defrocked and then reinstated in June this year – said he was perplexed by the bishop’s statement.

“She says one thing one day and then changes her mind or says another thing that’s opposite to what she just said,” he said.

John Lomperis, Methodist director of the Institute on Religion and Democracy, said: “When you have someone who’s been … as much in the spotlight as Bishop Johnson all of the sudden do such a reversal of this, I think this really dampens the sense of momentum there has been for the disobedience movement.”

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