Gay man in UMC case welcomed as member this time

Conflicts in membership criteria
The openly gay Virginia man who was at the center of a high-profile court case after he was denied membership in a United Methodist church has been accepted into membership under the church’s new pastor.

Barry Burkholder, current pastor of South Hill (Virginia) United Methodist Church, said he welcomed the man into membership during services March 11 because he “met all the requirements” and professed a “belief in Jesus Christ.” The new pastor accepted the man’s transfer of membership from a Baptist church, though the man was already worshiping at the Methodist church.

In a 2005 ruling, the Methodists’ highest court sided with South Hill’s former pastor, Edward H. Johnson, who refused to admit the gay man as a church member. The controversial decision upheld the right of local pastors to make such decisions.


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