The beloved pastor. | Photo: Facebook/Anna Golladay
A Tennessee pastor within the United Methodist Church (UMC) lost her license after she officiated a lesbian wedding.
Anna Golladay served the St. Marks and St. Elmo churches in Chattanooga, as part of the UMC’s Holston Conference. Golladay described her congregations as predominantly LGBTQ Methodists and allies.
However, on 26 February, the Conference voted to withdraw her license.
Several days later, on 6 March, Golladay wrote her own blog post about the decision.
She described the two women she married, one of whom was part of the congregation for several years.
‘I am expected to care for her, to be in covenant with she and her family 365 days a year and for their entire lives. The United Methodist Church would agree with that… except on one day and in one scenario,’ she wrote.
‘Am I moved by the Holy Spirit to serve? Without question. Will I strive to live a life in keeping with what I preach? I will. However, I also pray in living of that life I am not forbidden to serve as I’m moved by the Spirit.
‘The pain doled out by The United Methodist Church must stop. The continued minimization of our queer friends is not acceptable and should boil up in us a level of outrage that we can no longer control.’
She ended by writing that her congregations have been ‘irreparably harmed’ by the decision.
Tears shed, prayers uttered
More than 7 million people in the US are members of the UMC.
According to its Book of Discipline, ‘homosexuality is incompatible with Christian teaching’.
However, it has not stopped many members from mourning the loss of Galladay as their pastor, and expressing anger at the decision.
Rev. Gary Ihfe, the lead pastor at both the churches where Galladay served, posted a message on Facebook.
‘This news was shared with the congregation on Sunday morning, and a variety of emotions were felt. Words were shouted, tears were shed, hugs were given, and prayers were said,’ he wrote.
‘I am so sorry for the pain that is being felt by many of our families who feel as though they have come under attack. I want to assure you and your family are both loved and valued by our congregation. You and your family are loved and valued by our Leadership, our staff and by me. More importantly, you and your family are loved and cherished by God.’
A letter from Gary Ihfe To all of God’s beloved children at Saint Elmo UMC,Grace and peace to you from God our Father…
He also wrote the churches will ‘still boldly serve, accept, love, and teach all people’.
Many members expressed shock and outrage in the comments. They sent their love to Galladay.
One wrote they are ‘struggling’ with their UMC membership after this. Another defended the church and called out: ‘Now is the time to unite and confront those who still persecute us within our own faith.’
GSN reached out to the UMC and ACLU Tennessee for further comments.