LYNCHBURG, VA - March 1 - On March 17, 2004, in Bothell WA, the United Methodist Church will hold a church trial against Rev. Karen Dammann, an openly lesbian pastor in the Seattle area, who admitted to church leaders that she is in a covenantal relationship with another woman and they are raising a child together. Rev. Dammann is being charged with violating the United Methodist Book of Discipline because she is a self-avowed practicing homosexual.
Soulforce, a national interfaith movement committed to ending spiritual violence perpetuated by religious policies and teachings against gay, lesbian, bisexual, and transgender people, is planning a nonviolent civil disobedience prior to the start of the trial.
The trial takes place at Bothell United Methodist Church, 18515 92nd NE, in Bothell, WA (near Seattle). Jury selection is scheduled to begin at 9:30am, but Soulforce will be blocking the entrance of the church to prevent jurors and church officials from entering. A press conference and civil disobedience is scheduled to begin at 8:45am in front of the church.
It is so heartbreaking that the United Methodist Church, my church, is sending a message to the world that, if you are gay or lesbian, and you lie about who you are and who you love, you can serve in silence, but if you tell the truth, we are going to punish you, declared Marylee Fithian, co-chair of the Soulforce United Methodist Denominational Team from California. We feel we have no choice but to try to prevent the trial from taking place.
Those taking part in the civil disobedience are required to participate in a nonviolence training to be held the night before at 6pm at the IUOE Local 302 Union Hall, 18701 120th Ave. NE, in Bothell. Soulforce emphasizes that it teaches and employs the nonviolent principles of Gandhi and King to the liberation of sexual minorities.
It is not a crime to admit to being in a committed relationship. It is not a sin to be homosexual. Gods greatest commandment is to love one another, said Rev. Mel White, founder of Soulforce, Inc. We believe that the crime here is being committed by the United Methodist Church, because the church is denying the worth and dignity of Karen Dammann and all of Gods gay, lesbian, bisexual, and transgender people.
Rev. White is available for phone interviews any time, and will be available for in-person interviews in the Seattle area beginning March 12, 2004. Interviews can be arranged by calling 717-278-0592. For more information on Soulforce see www.soulforce.org. For information on the Dammann trial, see www.soulforce.org/denomination/umc/dammanntrial/