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  • Writer's pictureAffirmation

Pharisees Still Haunt David Meredith

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE (From Clifton UMC Communications)Contact (same-day followup): David Meredith - 614-361-8433 or DMeredith@CliftonUMC.comContact (later followup): Nick Federinko - 269-650-7251 or

Appeal Board Remands Charge Against Gay United Methodist Pastor

The United Methodist judicial process drags on for Clifton United Methodist Church pastor DavidMeredith, who faces complaints for his same-gender marriage to Jim Schlachter. An appeal board inIndianapolis has asked West Ohio church authorities to reconsider a charge against Rev. Meredith forbeing a “self-avowed practicing homosexual.”

Just days after Rev. Meredith and Jim’s 2016 wedding, letters of complaint were filed by other OhioUnited Methodists from outside of David’s congregation. The denomination’s official bylaws proclaimhomosexuality “incompatible with Christian teaching” and do not allow for openly gay clergy.

When the West Ohio Committee on Investigation dismissed a majority of the charges against Rev.Meredith last October, the complainants appealed the decision to the North Central JurisdictionCommittee on Appeals, arguing that an error of church law had been made. David Meredith and hundredsof supporters attended a hearing in Indianapolis on March 9th, but he was not permitted to speak, as the“committee” was considered the respondent in the hearing.

On Monday, March 19, the Committee on Appeals announced its decision: it remands the case back toWest Ohio, asking them to reconsider the charge of “being a self-avowed practicing homosexual”.However, they also asked that the reconsideration be held off on until after a special meeting of the globalUnited Methodist Church in early 2019 to deal with the question of gay inclusion. Rev. Meredith continuesto serve his congregation in Clifton while he waits.

“Denominational authorities continue to act like Pharisees, obstructing the love of Jesus,” offers NickFederinko, a communications staffer at David’s church. “The whole mission and message of Jesus isabout God’s love for everyone, not rule-based exclusion.”

Clifton United Methodist Church is a rare example of a growing United Methodist congregation in greaterCincinnati, where most mainline Protestant churches are shrinking. Clifton UMC prides itself on inclusionand social justice; its reconciling statement welcomes all people regardless of sexual orientation orgender identity, and the church’s social action partners include Cinci PRIDE, Black Lives Matter, theAMOS Project, and the Sanctuary Congregation Coalition.

David and Jim have been partnered for over thirty years, as David served as a pastor at multiple UnitedMethodist institutions in Ohio, including Armstrong Chapel, Oxford UMC, and Broad Street in Columbus,OH.

“This ruling is a sad illustration of the juridical lock-box that the Methodist establishment has placed itselfin,” says Steve Depoe, chair of Clifton United Methodist’s church council. “The Holy Spirit was not favoredduring that hearing, nor in the decision. But the arc of the moral universe bends toward justice, even forUnited Methodists. Pastor David Meredith will continue to serve as a faithful pastor for one of thestrongest congregations in the West Ohio Conference. Clifton UMC will lead the way forward in themonths ahead in Cincinnati, the Ohio Valley region, and beyond."

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