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Methodist Church Suspends Dell, Supporters Unite

A jury of 13 Methodist ministers found the Rev. Greg Dell of Broadway United Methodist Church in Chicago guilty of violating the church’s “order and discipline” by performing a unification ceremony for a gay couple last September.

The jury said that Dell, who has been a minister for almost thirty years, could avoid being suspended if he agreed to sign a document stating that he would never again perform a unification service for gay or lesbian partners. Dell refused this offer, stating that he would not betray his beliefs. Dell’s suspension will take effect this July.

Dell’s friends, congregation members, and other supporters gathered on Sunday at the church. Dell indicated that he would consider leaving the United Methodist Church for another denomination, and several of supporters said they would consider doing the same. Many of Dell’s gay and lesbian congregants praised Dell for making them feel wanted and welcome. Dave Samber said of Dell, “He would say, ‘We are not here to tolerate you — we are here to celebrate you.'”

Dell appeared to be in good spirits, even cracking a joke. “A trial really gets attendance up at church,” he quipped.

Sources:

Washington Post and New York Times - March 27 and 29, 1999

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