Complaint dropped against Iowa clergywoman

In a file photo from 2016, the Rev. Anna Blaedel speaks during the Iowa Annual Conference session on June 4. Photo by Arthur McClanahan, Iowa Conference.
In a file photo from 2016, the Rev. Anna Blaedel speaks during the Iowa Annual Conference session on June 4. Photo by Arthur McClanahan, Iowa Conference.

A complaint filed in June by three Iowa Conference clergymen against a fellow clergy member was dismissed on Aug. 30 by Bishop Julius C. Trimble. 

“In accordance with Paragraph 363.e of 2012 (United Methodist) Book of Discipline, I have decided to dismiss the complaint against Rev. Anna Blaedel,” wrote Trimble, who left the Iowa Conference to become bishop of the Indiana Conference on Sept. 1. “The rationale was shared with the appointive cabinet.”

The Rev. Craig Peters, the Rev. Gary Hoyt and Pastor Ben Blanchard filed a complaint with Trimble and the conference cabinet in response to remarks made by Blaedel during the 2016 session of the Iowa Annual Conference. In part, she said, “I am a ‘self-avowed practicing homosexual.’ Or, in my language, I am out, queer, partnered clergy.”

Paragraph 363.e of the Book of Discipline directs a bishop to initiate a “supervisory response process…within 90 days after the receipt” of a “written and signed complaint.” During those 90 days, if “the complaint resolution is not achieved” a bishop has the option to “Dismiss the complaint with the consent of the cabinet, giving the reasons therefore in writing, a copy of which shall be placed in the clergyperson’s file.”

After consultation with all parties involved, a resolution was not achieved during that time frame. Trimble then dismissed the complaint, noting that “a letter of reprimand will be placed in the file of Rev. Blaedel.”

He did not offer any further details, citing the confidential nature of the process.

Different outcome

A resolution of a complaint against a self-identified lesbian pastor in August had a different outcome.

On Aug. 3, a church trial in the Great Plains Conference was averted after an agreement was reached for the Rev. Cynthia Meyer, a lesbian pastor in Kansas, to take an involuntary leave of absence at least until the conclusion of the next General Conference, where denominational differences over homosexuality will continue to be discussed.

While she still officially holds her clergy credentials, Meyer cannot receive an appointment as pastor or perform the duties of a United Methodist elder, such as administering the sacraments, but could be hired by a church or other United Methodist entity for a layperson’s job.

The United Methodist Council of Bishops has approved a plan for establishing a commission dealing with church teachings on homosexuality.

McClanahan is director of communications for the Iowa Conference. Linda Bloom contributed to this report. Contact her at 615-742-5470 or newsdesk@umcom.org

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