Korean Methodist Church unfrocks Pastor Lee Dong-hwan for praying a blessing for LGBTQ+ people

Kim Song-yi 2024. 3. 5. 18:05
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Pastor Lee Dong-hwan (right), who was referred to a church tribunal for “hospitality ministry to LGBT people,” attends an appeal hearing at the Presbytery Hall in Jongno-gu, Seoul, on Thursday to await the verdict. On the same day, the Presiding Council rejected Lee‘s appeal and confirmed his dismissal from the church. By Donghoon Sung

Pastor Lee Dong-hwan, who was handed over to a church tribunal for praying a blessing for LGBTQ+ people, has been confirmed to leave the church.

On March 4, Korean Methodist Church’s General Assembly Tribunal Committee rejected an appeal filed by Lee to cancel his dismissal from the church for the reason of “pro-homosexuality and sympathy activities,” and upheld the original ruling. A two-trial system was adopted for the Methodist trial, and the decision for Lee to leave the church was confirmed by the sentencing on the same day.

The Gyeonggi Provincial Council of Korean Methodist Church’s General Assembly Tribunal sentenced Lee to be unfrocked and removed from his position in the church, the highest level of disciplinary action in the church.

The Gyeonggi Provincial Council accused Pastor Lee on the grounds that he attended the Queer Culture Festival from 2020 to 2022 and held a blessing ceremony for LGBTQ+ people. It is said that he violated the provision of the prohibition against pro-homosexuality in Article 3, Paragraph 8 of Canon Law.

In response, Lee appealed the case on the grounds that Gyeonggi Provincial Council’s review committee had dropped the charges, and that the charges were filed against him for offenses other than those stipulated by Canon law. However, the General Assembly Tribunal Committee did not recognize the procedural defects in the first trial that Lee complained about.

The General Assembly Tribunal Committee judged that Lee's mention of the reason for the decline of the Korean church in a media interview was a slander against the church. “It is the consensus of all the judges that his comments, saying ’The church is a power group,‘ ’ The church assumed an enemy of homosexuality,‘ and ’The Korean church has been hateful to minorities‘ clearly constitute slander and malicious propaganda against the church,” the committee said.

“The reason for this appeal is that the trial procedures of the Doctrine and Discipline were not followed,” said Park Han-hee, a lawyer for Pastor Lee. “It can only be seen that the trial committee sealed their case and pushed their arbitrary interpretation.” “We will challenge the legality of the General Assembly Tribunal‘s ruling through legal review and trial,” Lee’s legal counsel said, adding, “It is unfortunate that we have to go to a social court to challenge the ruling of the General Assembly Tribunal, but we will not avoid it if we have to.”

“I’m ashamed of the level of awareness of the Methodist Church that made this decision,” Lee said at a press conference held shortly after the sentencing, “Christianity is a religion that loves human beings and all beings, and today‘s decision to excommunicate me for blessing LGBTQ+ people will be recorded as a dark history that will be ridiculed for a long time in the history of Protestantism."

During the sentencing hearing, more than 30 members of the Joint Action Committee for Pastor Lee Dong-hwan rallied on the 16th floor of the Korean Methodist Hall in Jongno-gu, Seoul, holding signs that read, “Rescind Lee’s expulsion from the church” and “Repent the Methodist Church for discriminating against LGBTQ+ people.”

※This article has undergone review by a professional translator after being translated by an AI translation tool.

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