For the seventh time in 20 years, The United Methodist Church is wrestling in a public church trial with the issue of homosexuality.
The Rev. Amy DeLong, a lesbian clergy member of the Wisconsin Annual (regional) Conference, faces two charges of violating church law and the possibility of losing her ministerial credentials. Her trial is underway at Peace United Methodist Church in Kaukauna, Wis.
The original presiding officer, retired Bishop Bruce Blake, has recused himself from the trial for personal reasons. Bishop Linda Lee of the Wisconsin Conference has selected retired Bishop Clay Foster Lee Jr., of Byram, Miss., as the new presiding officer. He retired in 1996 as bishop of the Holston Conference, which encompasses congregations in eastern Tennessee, southwestern Virginia and northern Georgia.
The Rev. Thomas Lambrecht, pastor of Faith Community Church in Greenville, Wis., is the counsel for the church at the request of Bishop Linda Lee. Lambrecht is also a board member of Good News, an unofficial evangelical caucus in the denomination, and will begin working for the group in July.
The Rev. Scott Campbell, pastor of Harvard-Epworth United Methodist Church in Cambridge, Mass., is the counsel for DeLong, the respondent. He is a member of the Reconciling Ministries Network, an unofficial caucus advocating for greater inclusion of gays and lesbians in the church.
A United Methodist News Service team, reporter Heather Hahn and Chief Photographer Mike DuBose,are covering the trial and will post coverage online atwww.umc.org, on theUMNS Facebookpage and onflickr.