Imagine the nerve of Edward Johnson, pastor of the South Hill United Methodist Church.
He had the gall to deny church membership to a man who was a practicing, unrepentant homosexual in an immoral relationship with another man (which, to my mind, is about four ways of saying the same thing). Evidently appalled at this unauthorized exercise of anything approaching Biblical church discipline, and perhaps fearing that his example, if left uncorrected, might catch on, the clergy session of the Virginia Annual Conference last month took decisive action.
They put pastor Johnson on leave. Involuntarily. Without pay. For a year.
Actually, it may be more than a year, depending ominously enough on "whether or not he works with the conference on what we ask him," according to District Superintendent William Anthony Layman, who presides over the Petersburg district to which South Hill belongs. One can only imagine what they will "ask him."
Raising a "how many things are wrong with this picture?" scenario, the Bishop Charlene P. Kammerer piously wished Johnson luck and said she'd pray for "healing in the life of the congregation in South Hill." "Healing" in the context likely means something along the lines of quieting all this fuss caused by some rebellious UMC clergy daring to get anywhere near the Bible. It is unlikely that she had in mind Biblical healing, which would involve just the sort of thing the pastor apparently was trying to do (1 Corinthians 5).
Any outbreak of such Biblical standards in the United Methodist Church would eventually mean that "Bishop" Kammerer herself would be out of a job, and that for many reasons. If "Charlene" is a man's name, that would be one less reason. Well, maybe.
Now the pastor and his congregation, separated by an external power seemingly pitted against any notion of actual Biblical Christianity, will have to decide whether to stay with the rotting UMC corpse, or ally themselves with Biblically-convicted, living, practicing, actual Christians.
Which is also about four ways of saying the same thing.