A pastor who officiated a same-sex wedding in Tennessee has had her license revoked.
Assistant pastor Anna Golladay describes herself as a “cradle Methodist”, she says she was “born” in the church.
Her entire life she had worked towards becoming a pastor and she landed her dream job at the First Methodist Church in St. Elmo and St. Marks in Chattanooga, Tennessee.
The pastor had been a huge driving force in making the churches she works in more welcoming to the LGBTQ community.
She explained that the “revitalisation process” came “with an assumption of including for LGBT folk”.
“We have not strayed from that and we knew that inclusion was going to very much be a part of our story,” Golladay said.
That is why she believed that she could officiate a wedding for a same-sex couple who have been in the church for the years.
Despite knowing that clergy policy forbade it, she felt it was the right decision to help the church progress.
She explained: “It’s explicitly written in the Methodist book of discipline [that a pastor should not conduct same-sex weddings].
“I very intentionally agreed to this wedding because I believed wholly in my call to be their pastor.
“I find it sad that the church asks me to be their pastor always and at all times except for one day, out of one year, out of their entire life.
“That’s the only day I’m not allowed to be in ministry with them. There’s something fundamentally wrong with that.”
Golladay added that she understood that she would be “crossing a line” but said that the “man-made book” could be challenged.
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However, she thought long and hard before deciding to do the wedding because she “wanted to be sure that it was exactly what God intended me to do.”
Acknowledging the decision to revoke Golladay’s pastoral license, Pastor Doug Fairbanks, who is the leader of one of Chattanooga’s largest Methodist churches, said that he thinks the right decision was made.
Fairbanks said: “When this pastor received permission and authority to serve a church and preach the gospel understood where the church stood at this time so it was a personal choice.
“Remember it’s my personal opinion that I would not do that at this time. As long as I’m part of the Methodist church, I will uphold the laws of the church,” he added.
Golladay added that she felt telling “people that they’re less than” had gone on too long.
“There’s no time to wait,” she said, referring to the update of the Methodist Book of Discipline, which bans pastors from officiating same-sex marriages.
The general conference, where policies for the Methodist church are debated and changed, are held every four years.
They next meeting will be held in February next year, and Golladay is hoping that there will be some much-needed updates.