Lesbian Methodist pastor leaves Edgerton church on involuntary leave to avoid trial
Edgerton — A lesbian pastor has agreed to go on involuntary leave from her United Methodist Church in Edgerton to avoid a church trial over her sexual orientation.
Cynthia Meyer and Methodist officials agreed in early August that her leave will begin Wednesday. Her final sermon in Edgerton was Sunday. No other United Methodist church will be able to appoint her as a pastor but churches could hire her to “perform functions equivalent to a lay staff person,” according to the agreement.
The Kansas City Star reports Meyer revealed her sexual orientation to her congregation in January, when she thought the denomination was considering changing its ban on homosexual clergy. That has not happened, so the agreement was reached “to avoid the harm and trauma of a trial,” according to a statement from the Great Plains Conference of the United Methodist Church.
Meyer, 53, said on Wednesday she wanted to avoid a trial because she could have lost her credentials to ever be a pastor again. She plans to work in lay ministry or for a nonprofit while she waits for the denomination to change its policy, which would allow her to return to the pulpit. She will receive a $37,000 severance, which was one year’s salary.
“I’ve signed away my right to live out my calling — to be most fully who God has called me to be — I hope only for a time,” Meyer wrote in a statement after the agreement. “My heart is broken, yet I trust that God will work through even this for good.”
Rita Jones, president of the United Methodist Women in Edgerton and secretary of the church council, said the congregation did not want to lose Meyer.
“A congregation never agrees a hundred percent on anything, but a big majority here supported her and wanted her to stay,” Jones said. “She is an excellent pastor and we are sorry to see her leave and wish her the best.”
In May, the top policymaking body of the United Methodist Church voted to delay consideration of all LGBT-related proposals. A new commission will spend at least two years reviewing policy on the subject, with the goal of developing a plan to address differences within the denomination. The Methodists adopted a policy in 1972 that called same-gender relationships “incompatible with Christian teaching.”