Local pastor loses license for officiating at same-sex wedding

The Holston Conference has withdrawn the license for a local pastor who officiated at a same-sex wedding.

Anna Golladay was serving as associate pastor at St. Marks and St. Elmo United Methodist churches in Chattanooga, Tennessee, until her dismissal on Feb. 28.

Church law does not allow United Methodist pastors to officiate at same-sex weddings.

The Rev. Randy Martin, district superintendent, said he was presented with a copy of a marriage license and a photo from a same-sex wedding, including information that Golladay had officiated. When he asked her about it, she confirmed the information, which he then turned over to the conference district committee on ministry.

Golladay said she was not asked to confirm she had officiated at a same-sex wedding until after the committee had voted.

The Scenic South District committee on ministry voted to withdraw her license, Martin said.

Ordained United Methodist pastors can be brought up on charges for officiating at same-sex weddings, Martin said. Martin said no charges were brought because it was a personnel matter and Golladay admitted she had officiated at the wedding. Licensed local pastors can be charged under Paragraph 320.3 of the Book of Discipline.

Martin said Golladay is welcome to continue to be a member and be as involved in the churches’ ministries.

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St. Marks and St. Elmo are part of the Reconciling Ministries Network, an independent, grassroots group that actively works for LGBTQ people in the church. Golladay was appointed to St. Marks in 2016, and the Holston Conference put the two churches in the same charge in 2017.

Golladay said these congregations are almost exclusively LGBTQ individuals and straight people who support them.

“On Monday, Feb. 26, 2018, the district committee on ministry of the Scenic South District voted to remove my credentials because I performed a wedding between two women,” Golladay wrote in a statement posted on Reconciling Ministries Network. “On Wednesday, Feb. 28, 2018, I was notified of the decision. It was that concise.”

Golladay said she was at both churches on March 4 when Martin made the announcement about her dismissal.

“I want very much for my congregants to stand in the gap of this conflict,” she said. “I felt it was necessary for me to model what that looks like by being there when my dismissal was announced.”

The Rev. Gary Ihfe, pastor of both congregations, posted a message about Golladay’s dismissal on Facebook on March 5.

“Tears were shed, hugs were given, and prayers were said,” he wrote. “I am so sorry for the pain that is being felt by many of our families who feel as though they have come under attack.”

Barry Condra, a member of St. Elmo and chair of the staff-parish relations committee, said he is an openly gay man who has been a member of St. Elmo for 15 years.

“My first reaction when I got the call from our district superintendent telling me of her dismissal was to just run and leave the church,” Condra said. He said he decided to stay to help newer members of the church not leave “hurt and wounded yet again from organized religion.”

Golladay said she is enrolled at Iliff Theological Seminary pursuing a master’s degree in theological studies with a concentration on social justice.

“I will be continuing my pursuit of that degree but am uncertain if it will ever morph into an M-Div. (Master of Divinity degree),” she said.

“I will continue to work with both congregations as needed. Many are anxious to continue the fight for full inclusion in the church. This has lit a fire under them, and I’m honored to be with them as we all navigate these waters together.”

Gilbert is a multimedia reporter for United Methodist News Service. Contact her at 615-742-5470 or newsdesk@umcom.org. To read more United Methodist news, subscribe to the free Daily or Weekly Digests. 

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