Since January 2013, Reverend Benjamin Hutchinson’s congregation at the United Methodist Church in Cassopolis, Michigan has know that he’s openly gay, but now it’s a problem. After three years as senior pastor, Hutchinson says the church’s district superintendent forced him to resign or be fired this last week for having a life partner.
“I’ve never been shy about it, and I won’t hide from it,” Hutchinson told WSBT. “Monty Hutchinson is my life partner and that’s who he is to me.”
It was especially surprising seeing as the church and its congregants had no issue with him during his over two years at the church. “It wasn’t only my place of employment, it was the love of my life,” Hutchinson said.
Hutchinson is not alone in his heartbreak. His congregation is grieving with a black tulle draped over the pastor’s pulpit and chair to mark his dismissal. Churchgoer Kevin Hershberger said Reverend Hutchinson “brought life back into that church.” and that no one had a “problem” with his sexuality. The United Methodist discipline accepts gay parishioners but not gay clergymen although no one ever said anything when he joined the church.
“I’m still waiting for the shell shock to wear off,” Hutchinson said. “I’m looking forward to being married to my husband. I’m looking forward to our next chapter together.”
The United Methodist Church issued a statement that the “church’s official position on these matters” will be discussed in May 2016 during a general conference.
(featured image via John Wright)