CASSOPOLIS, Mich. (WOOD) — Several United Methodist pastors from West Michigan are facing the possibility of discipline after attending the wedding of a reverend who had to resign because he is gay.
Rev. Benjamin Hutchison resigned from his role as senior pastor at the Cassopolis United Methodist Church last week, then married his partner on Friday on the steps of the Cass County Courthouse.
Rev. Michael Tupper of Parchment United Methodist Church signed the marriage license. Tuesday, he told 24 Hour News 8 that nine pastors could face discipline from the United Methodist Church for attending the wedding and participating in presenting the couple as “husband and husband,” which goes against the church’s teachings.
Hutchinson, a native of Grand Rapids, was appointed to lead the church in Cassopolis two years ago. He told 24 Hour News 8 last week that he never tried to hide his sexuality, and that his parishioners knew he is gay and didn’t mind. But last week, United Methodist officials met with Hutchison and asked him about it.
“I told him I said I would never deny Monty to anybody. He is my life partner and I have chosen him to be my life partner,” Hutchison said.
He said he had to resign or he wound have been fired.
The United Methodist discipline states, in part, that practicing homosexuals are not to be ordained as ministers or appointed to serve in the church.
Many parishioners were unhappy, putting up signs in support of Hutchison outside the church and creating a small display to honor him inside.
Tupper said that the bishop will set up a meeting with the pastors facing discipline to see if they can reach what’s called a “just resolution” to prevent a trial.
He said he hopes his actions and the actions of the other pastors will help shed light on the need for change.