Foundry United Methodist

Church Criticized Over Gay Services Plan

By Jacqueline L. Salmon
Washington Post Staff Writer
Friday, February 15, 2008

A conservative Christian group yesterday criticized a large Methodist church in the District for planning to offer services that recognize gay and lesbian relationships, saying they violate the United Methodist ban on same-sex unions.

Foundry United Methodist Church, which Bill and Hillary Rodham Clinton attended when he was president, decided last month to support its senior pastor's decision to lead services that "recognize and honor" committed gay relationships. Foundry clergy, however, do not perform union ceremonies, the local bishop said.

The Institute on Religion and Democracy, a Christian group opposed to liberal trends in mainline Protestant denominations, demanded that the bishop of the Baltimore-Washington Conference of the United Methodist Church, John R. Schol, prevent the services.

"If they're not violating the letter, they're certainly violating the spirit of United Methodist standards" said Mark Tooley, executive director of UMAction, an Institute on Religion and Democracy project that focuses on the United Methodist Church.

"Ceremonies that celebrate homosexual unions shall not be conducted by our ministers and shall not be conducted in our churches," church law states.

Foundry's senior pastor, Dean Snyder, was traveling yesterday and was not available for comment, his office said.

Snyder's Nov. 11 pastoral letter said he wanted to remain obedient to church law and that the worship services would not be "ceremonies that celebrate homosexual unions." Rather, his letter said, they would "include the worship of God and recognize and honor the commitment which has previously been made."

Foundry's Church Council endorsed Snyder's letter last month.

Schol said yesterday that the services do not violate church law.

"Foundry Church is working hard at being faithful to the United Methodist Church," he said, adding that Foundry is "also a congregation that is seeking to minister to the broad community that it serves."

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