Trial date set for lesbian clergywoman in Pacific Northwest
Feb. 5, 2004
By United Methodist News Service
March 17 clergy trial date has been set for a United Methodist pastor
in the Pacific Northwest who disclosed to her bishop that she is living
in a "partnered, covenanted homosexual relationship."
Rev. Karen Dammann will stand trial at Bothell United Methodist Church,
outside Seattle, according to a Feb. 4 announcement by Bishop Elias
Galvan, who leads the Pacific Northwest Annual (regional) Conference.
affirming gays as people of sacred worth, the United Methodist Book of
Discipline bars "self-avowed practicing homosexuals" from being ordained
or serving as clergy. The charge against Dammann is for practices
declared by the United Methodist Church to be incompatible with
Christian teachings, according to the bishop's office.
have asked Bishop William B. Grove to preside over the trial," Galvan
said. "He is well respected throughout the church and has experience
presiding at church trials."
of Charleston, W.Va., was elected bishop in 1980 and served the
church's West Virginia and Albany, N.Y., episcopal areas before retiring
Dammann continues to serve at First United Methodist Church of Ellensburg, Wash., about two hours east of Seattle.
told Galvan in a letter in 2001 that she was living in a homosexual
relationship. That disclosure led to a series of hearings before
official church bodies, including the church's highest court, the
Judicial Council, which sent the case back to two lower committees last
fall. The Pacific Northwest's Committee on Investigation decided Jan. 12
in a 5-2 vote that Dammann would stand trial.
is represented by the Rev. Robert C. Ward of Tacoma, Wash., and Seattle
attorney Lindsay Thompson is assisting as associate counsel, according
to Thompson's office.
a Jan. 13 release from Thompson, Dammann said she was prepared for a
trial. "The case has become much bigger than me now, and I hope it will
give the church an opportunity to grow," she said. "The ultimate act of
trying someone for being gay is bound to shake the tree - I hope in the
direction of inclusiveness."
a clergy trial, a panel of 13 United Methodist pastors, chosen from a
jury pool named by the annual conference cabinet, serves as the jury. At
least nine votes are needed to convict. In cases of conviction, the
Book of Discipline provides for a range of penalties, including loss of
ministerial orders for the clergy member. If convicted, Dammann would
have the right to appeal.
News media contact: Tim Tanton · (615) 742-5470 · Nashville, Tenn.