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Church drops case against ex-divinity dean for officiating
at son's gay marriage

Thomas Ogletree, a former Yale Divinity School dean, wouldn't have been the first Methodist minister defrocked for performing his son's marriage to another man. Now, he also won't be the second.

The United Methodist Church dropped its charges "without conditions" this morning against Ogletree, an emeritus professor of theological ethics at the Divinity School. The announcement preempted a church trial that was scheduled to begin today.

Ogletree performed the wedding of his son, Thomas Rimbey Ogletree ’03, and Nicholas Haddad at the Yale Club of New York in 2012. After the New York Times published a wedding announcement, two Methodist ministers filed a complaint with the church.

When discussions failed to resolve the complaint, the church's New York Conference formally charged Ogletree with violating The Discipline of the United Methodist Church, which prohibits ministers from officiating at gay weddings. The charge came in January, just a month after the church defrocked Pennsylvania pastor Frank Schaefer for officiating at his son's same-sex wedding.

In Ogletree's case, the church scheduled a trial but then continued trying to reach a "just resolution," in the words of the Discipline. Today, in place of a trial, the New York Conference announced the terms of that resolution.

Ogletree waives his right to a trial. In turn, Bishop Martin McLee "calls for and commits to a cessation of church trials" for conducting or celebrating same-sex unions. Instead, the agreement says, the New York bishop will convene a forum "dealing with matters of human sexuality and the United Methodist Church"—a "theological, spiritual and ecclesiastical conversation" aimed at "healing within the body and greater understanding among those who are affiliated with the New York Annual Conference."

Ogletree "agrees to make himself available, health permitting," for that forum.

"While many insist on the trial procedure for many reasons, I offer that trials are not the way forward," McLee says in a statement appended to the agreement": they "result in harmful polarization and continue the harm brought upon our gay and lesbian brothers and sisters."

At a press conference announcing the resolution, Ogletree called the internal church process "a challenging and inspiring experience," according to a United Methodist News account. Of McLee, he said: "I do believe he is now providing a new model for our bishops on how they can play a transforming role."


The Yale Alumni Magazine is published by Yale Alumni Publications Inc., an alumni-based nonprofit that is not run by Yale University. Its content does not necessarily reflect the views of the university administration.

Filed under Thomas Ogletree, United Methodist Church, Thomas Rimbey Ogletree, Divinity School, same-sex marriagesex marriage
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