Though it violates the United Methodist Church law, two ministers exchanged vows in Seattle, Washington earlier this month.
Tibbetts United Methodist Church’s Joanne Carlson and Woodland Park United Methodist Church’s Christie Newbill wed at Brown’s church in front of 300 people. District Superintendent Patricia Simpson officiated the wedding.
“When Joanne and I moved to a place in our relationship where we were discussing marriage, we were not influenced by or were identifying in any way with other events throughout our denomination. I never considered this as [a statement] against The United Methodist Church. Our marriage is our statement for declaring to our friends and family, in the presence of God, our love and commitment for one another,” Brown said in an interview with UMConnections.
That same interview stated:
The United Methodist Book of Discipline affirms “the sanctity of the marriage covenant that is expressed in love, mutual support, personal commitment, and shared fidelity between a man and a woman.”
Since 1972, the Book of Discipline has said all people are of sacred worth but “the practice of homosexuality is incompatible with Christian teaching.”
Still, Joanne Brown — a cradle United Methodist — noted that church law has changed since she began pursuing a call to ordained ministry in the mid-1970s.
In 1984 — two years after Joanne Brown was ordained an elder — the church added the prohibition against “self-avowed practicing” gay individuals from serving “as candidates, ordained as ministers or appointed in The United Methodist Church.”
In subsequent years, the church added the ban on United Methodist clergy performing, and churches hosting “ceremonies that celebrate homosexual unions.” Since 2004, violating either prohibition has been a chargeable offence under church law that potentially could lead to a church trial.
General Conference, which meets every four years and sets the laws for the denomination, in 2012 retained the earlier language and rejected a resolution that stated the church disagrees on sexuality. The next General Conference will be in 2016.
“I won’t live my life without her no matter what happens,” Brown continued.