I'm not a Methodist and my big question is: What took you guys so long? This has been going on for years. This is why I belong to a congregationally organized Baptist denomination. If a minister pulls this stuff they generally either get kicked out by their own church or the church falls apart around them. There is none of this years of church court stuff.
My bible study is current embarking on 1 Corinthians. Corinth was a church beset with sexual immorality on a number of levels (prostitution was a biggie). Chapter 5 seems very applicable right now.
I have written you in my letter not to associate with sexually immoral people— not at all meaning the people of this world who are immoral, or the greedy and swindlers, or idolaters. In that case you would have to leave this world. But now I am writing you that you must not associate with anyone who calls himself a brother but is sexually immoral or greedy, an idolater or a slanderer, a drunkard or a swindler. With such a man do not even eat.Or in other words, cast the unrepentant sinner out of your fellowship. Once that is done, let them go on their way.
What business is it of mine to judge those outside the church? Are you not to judge those inside? God will judge those outside. "Expel the wicked man from among you."
Of course many people will hold that homosexuality is not "sexually immoral". I'm sure Paul would have a lot to say about those people too.
UPDATE: John the Methodist says that I don't understand why there is a debate here. That isn't the case, I understand why. What I don't understand is why it took over two and a half years to resolve the debate.
The woman preached her "coming out" sermon in April of 2003. She admitted publicly to living a lifestyle that is officially in conflict with being a minister in the UMC and the penalty is, to my understanding, pretty plainly spelled out. It isn't like members of her congregation were sneaking around her garden digging up dirt while violating her privacy.
The facts are a matter of public record as is the penalty. Why did it take over two years to reach a final verdict? My guess is politics, the liberal wing of the UMC didn't actually want to execute their own church laws on the matter.