Skip to content

United Methodist Minister Charged for Officiating at Son’s Wedding

Haddad and Ogletree

Nicholas Haddad and Thomas Ogletree announced their wedding ceremony in the Weddings/Celebrations section of the New York Times. Their October 20, 2012 marriage was officiated by Thomas’ father, the Rev. Dr. Thomas W. Ogletree, a United Methodist minister. Dr. Ogletree is Professor Emeritus of Ethics and former Dean of Yale Divinity School. Several United Methodist ministers in New York have filed charges against him for officiating at his son’s marriage, which violates church rules and exposes him to a potential church trial.

“I was blessed to have been Tom Ogletree’s colleague at YDS for several years. He is a minister of great integrity and pastoral sensitivity, and is providing important pastoral care as are thousands of other clergy who are willing to risk church trials for the sake of their understanding of the gospel. They are prophetic heroes.” ~Patrick Evans, Interim Executive Director of More Light Presbyterians.

When Thomas asked his father to officiate at his wedding, Dr. Ogletree was inspired. “I actually wasn’t thinking of this as an act of civil disobedience or church disobedience. I was thinking of it as a response to my son.”

From the New York Times:

Dr. Ogletree, 79, is now facing a possible canonical trial for his action, accused by several New York United Methodist ministers of violating church rules. While he would not be the first United Methodist minister to face discipline for performing a same-sex wedding, he could well be the one with the highest profile. He is a retired dean of Yale Divinity School, a veteran of the nation’s civil rights struggles and a scholar of the very type of ethical issues he is now confronting.

“Sometimes, when what is officially the law is wrong, you try to get the law changed,” Dr. Ogletree, a native of Birmingham, Ala., said in a courtly Southern drawl over a recent lunch at Yale, where he remains an emeritus professor of theological ethics. “But if you can’t, you break it.”

For Dr. Ogletree, the issues are not just academic. He has fully accepted, he said, that two of his five children are gay. His daughter married her partner in Massachusetts, in a non-Methodist ceremony. So when his son asked him last year to officiate at the wedding, he said yes.

The wedding of Thomas Rimbey Ogletree and Nicholas W. Haddad, held on Oct. 20, 2012, at the Yale Club in New York, incorporated readings from Scripture and the Massachusetts court decision legalizing same-sex marriages. A wedding announcement in The New York Times prompted several conservative Methodist ministers to file a complaint against Dr. Ogletree with the local bishop…

“He does the right thing because he believes in doing the right thing,” Mr. Ogletree said of his father. “And then, if there is any question about that, he is willing to stand up and place a claim for that in a public way.”

New York’s Methodists have passed resolutions supporting same-sex marriage, but the region’s bishop, Martin D. McLee, said he had no choice, once mediation failed, but to refer the matter to the equivalent of a prosecuting lawyer for the church, who will decide whether to hold a trial.

Rev. Dr. OgletreeRev. Dr. Thomas W. Ogletree wrote an in-depth commentary about officiating at his son’s marriage for Reconciling Ministries Network, an organization working for the full welcome of LGBTQ people in The United Methodist Church.

There was no way that I could with integrity have declined his request, even though my action was designated as a “chargeable offense” by The United Methodist Discipline (cf. par. 2702). Tom and Nick are men of maturity, wisdom, and integrity, and their exceptional bonds with each other have enhanced their commitments to foster a more just and inclusive society that serves the well-being of all people. Performing their wedding was one of the most significant ritual acts of my life as a pastor! …

I contend that same sex unions and marriages are fully compatible with Christian teachings, and that we have an obligation to incorporate these understandings into United Methodist practices, even though such efforts are presently in conflict with the church’s existing judicial standards. For the sake of justice, therefore, I was obliged to commit an act of ecclesial disobedience, even though I now face judicial charges for acting in faithful devotion to our church’s inclusive vision.

See Also:

Print Friendly
2 Comments Post a comment
  1. Richard Teaford #

    I am a YDS graduate of Presbyterian persuasion and applaud you for being a loving father and a couageous minister.

    May 6, 2013
  2. George M Melby, Pastor #

    I am reminded of many ministers in the UMC and other denominations who have decided to do the work of the Lord and forsook the rules and regulations of man, who purpose to ‘talk’ for God, by distinctly disobeying God’s call to do God’s work! This brings to mind the UMC and the RCC hierarchies, in particular, who refuse to heed the call of Christ to do what is good and to help others along their way in life. Somebody once said, “There are Christian people who are so heavenly minded that they are no earthly good.” May the good Rev. Ogletree, his sons and families, his daughters and their families find peace, joy, blessings and good laughter through these trials of life. And may they always be found innocent through the blood of Jesus Christ!

    May 16, 2013

Leave a Reply

You may use basic HTML in your comments. Your email address will not be published.

Subscribe to this comment feed via RSS