Gay clergywoman 'comes out' during service


By United Methodist News Service

An associate pastor says she disclosed her homosexuality during a recent Sunday morning worship service “to share with the congregation part of my faith journey and how I’ve experienced God’s grace.” The Rev. Kathleen Weber shared her story during the Sept. 30 service at Blaine Memorial United Methodist Church in Seattle, where she has been on staff the past four years. She is a commissioned candidate for ministry in The United Methodist Church and is on track to be ordained next year.

The Rev. Elaine Stanovsky, Seattle District superintendent, said Weber’s comments to the congregation culminated weeks of dialogue in “concentric circles” of the church that included herself, the church administrative board and other key church leaders. Stanovsky also notified Bishop Edward W. Paup of the planned disclosure. The United Methodist Church, while affirming that both homosexuals and heterosexuals are people of “sacred worth,” does not condone the practice of homosexuality and considers the practice “incompatible with Christian teaching,” according to the Book of Discipline, the denomination’s book of law.

Church law specifically prohibits the appointment of “self-avowed practicing homosexuals” as clergy. The district superintendent said no complaints or charges have been filed against Weber and that she has no plans to launch a disciplinary process.

Asked if she had questioned whether Weber is in a homosexual relationship, Stanovsky answered that her conversations with pastors in her district fall into pastor-parishioner privilege and that she treats them with “utmost confidentiality.”