Someone Doesn’t Want This Gay Minister In Their Church. So They Stole His Seminary Diploma

Pastor David Meredith decried what he called "acts of hate and intimation."

The United Methodist Church been grappling with its position on homosexuality of late, but someone made it clear a gay minister in Ohio wasn’t welcome.

David Meredith, pastor of Cincinnati’s Clifton United Methodist Church had his office burglarized late last month by a thief who left his laptop, antique silver pieces, and other valuables. Instead the culprit stole Meredith’s diploma from Saint Paul School of Theology and his framed ordination certificate.

As recently as 2012, the UMC voted to maintain the view that homosexuality is “incompatible with Christian teaching,” prohibiting same-sex marriage and out ministers. Meredith is actually facing charges of “disobedience” after a complaint was filed against him in 2016, two days after he married his parter of nearly 30 years.

“I am involved in this legal process within the United Methodist Church that seeks my removal from clergy status,” Meredith told the Cincinnati Enquirer. “In a symbolic way, by removing those documents that allow me that status, it’s a similar way to do it through acts of hate and intimation.”

In a statement, church leaders suggested the crime could have been an inside job.

The leaving of items of monetary value, and the theft of items of specified value to those in the know, suggests a theft by an informed United Methodist, perhaps even a clergyperson. And this is saddening and maddening. Is this what we have come to? Is this what the denomination has come to?

Bishop Gregory V. Palmer told the Enquirer he was “disheartened by this act of vandalism and deeply pained for Pastor Meredith and the Clifton UMC by what can only be described as a deep personal loss.”

Many Clifton congregants have also voiced their support for Meredith, and a rally is planned on Mother’s Day.

“[David’s] personal life is a gift from God,” wrote parishioner Keith Wagner David in a Facebook post. “I am personally gratified that he has had the courage to always be himself and to serve in the capacity I believe God wills him to work. Talents like his should not be overlooked.”

News of the theft, reported to Cincinnati police as a hate crime, comes just as UMC bishops proposed allowing individual pastors and regional churches to decide whether or not to ordain LGBT clergy.

“The Council’s prayerful deliberation reflected the diversity of the global denomination on the matter of homosexuality and many other matters,” Council of Bishops president Ken Carter on Monday. “The Council affirms the strength of this diversity and our commitment to maintain the unity of the church.”

Dan Avery is a writer-editor who focuses on culture, breaking news and LGBT rights. His work has appeared in Newsweek, The New York Times, Time Out New York, The Advocate and elsewhere.