A United Methodist minister acquitted Wednesday on a church charge of being a “self-avowed practicing homosexual,”was sentenced Thursday to a 20-day suspension for presiding at a holy union ceremony for a lesbian couple in 2009.
As part of the penalty, the Rev. Amy DeLong must work with Wisconsin church officials to craft a document that will help resolve future disputes in a more collaborative way in an effort to avoid trials.
Both sides heralded the penalty and split verdict as just.
“I feel good about what the church has done. I think we’ve sent a message that the United Methodist Church will not throw out its gay and lesbian people, and that it has opened the doors for a more inclusive church,” said DeLong, who has long acknowledged to church officials that she is a lesbian in a committed relationship.
The Rev. Tom Lambrecht, a Wisconsin elder who served as church counsel in the trial, said the penalty recognizes that DeLong harmed the clergy covenant and that there are consequences for such actions.
“I think the suspension is just the first step,” said Lambrecht, who had asked the jury to suspend DeLong indefinitely until she agreed not to officiate at same-sex unions in the future. “What’s important is Rev. DeLong’s written work that will look at ways we can resolve issues without creating that adversarial spirit and doing harm to the clergy covenant.”
DeLong, 44, of Osceola, is executive director of Kairos CoMotion, a United Methodist advocacy group that promotes, among other things, greater acceptance of gay and lesbian people. She was appointed to that job by her bishop.