• Rich Barlow

    Senior Writer

    Rich Barlow

    Rich Barlow is a senior writer at BU Today and Bostonia magazine. Perhaps the only native of Trenton, N.J., who will volunteer his birthplace without police interrogation, he graduated from Dartmouth College, spent 20 years as a small-town newspaper reporter, and is a former Boston Globe religion columnist, book reviewer, and occasional op-ed contributor. Profile

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There are 18 comments on Marsh Chapel Dean Defends Gay Marriage

  1. I heartily applaud Dean Hill’s defense of, not only his colleague,Thomas Ogletree, but his statement of support for the rights of all human beings to love, and if they choose, to marry who they damned well please.There is something in his Bible that suggests to “judge not that ye be not judged.” But I would hope that he would also consider something more. It will not be for our words that we will be remembered, but for our acts. It is only in acts that we can see and understand the real meaning of courage. It cannot be sufficient for any of us to simply say what we believe to be right and just and humane. In the absence of action, those words ring hollow.

  2. What it takes to move a mountain is a few good people of conscience presenting an idea whose time has come, who then lead us to that mountain to be moved.

    Dean Robert Hill, an enormously good man of conscience, presents just such an idea, and we will be blessed to follow his lead.

  3. This is nothing but decay from within. Anyway, not surprising because the Bible foretold the dimension of apostasy that would characterize the last days. When reputable Methodist ministers are beginning to speak in support of the forbidden, then obviously we are at the beginning of the end. I wish John Wesley would hear them philosophize the sacred work he started. God have mercy on these men!

    1. @ Matt — it is unfortunate that we see ministers in this age that have folded under the pressure of society or have simply forgotten the simple, clear, and explicit instructions from God. There is no room for mis-interpretation. Only willful ignorance. I’m glad someone else posted something courageous.

      @ fantastic — obselete are all of the things humans create and that fades away. As for the true church, it has stood the test of time and violent criticism and hatred for believing something true. Truth is exclusive and for that reason, truth can hurt.

  4. How very fortunate Boston University is in having Dean Robert Hill as the dean of Marsh Chapel. I applaud his courage and his justice, so richly justified by the Gospel he preaches.

  5. Bob was my minister at Asbury First United Methodist Church. His words, from the pulpit and from his heart, always inspired me. I applaud his courage in speaking out on this tragic event in the Methodist church; I hope pastor Ogletree is spared the humiliation of a “trial” that never should happen.

  6. While I believe this a statement of conscience, this change must happen at the General Conference level. Saying that the Bishop of Upper New York must not enforce the discipline selectively is an open invitation for individuals and/or congregations not to observe the Discipline for any issue in which they claim conscience, rendering the Discipline moot. Implying the attitude of the Bishop of Upper New York is at fault for three years of decline is also irresponsible since the Bishop has only been in charge for a little over 8 months. There are those like the Dean who argue that the cause of social justice justifies ignoring the structural constraints through which change must work in United Methodism. He may be right but do not be surprised that if this happens the results may not be the results he desires.

    1. I believe Rev. Hill was not “implying the attitude of the Bishop of Upper New York is at fault for three years of decline,” but rather that the UMC’s refusal “to affirm the full humanity of gay people” has driven “people of conscience…under 45” away. Your argument against Hill’s position “that the cause of social justice justifies ignoring the structural constraints through which change must work in United Methodism” sounds very much like the statements of the clergy to whom the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. wrote his “Letter from Birmingham Jail.” It might do you – and others to agree with you – some good to reread that document, especially since King got his Ph.D. from the same seminary from which you received your M.Div., and King wrote the letter in a city in which the Rev. Dr. Ogletree founded a United Methodist Church.
      The “incompatibility clause” was placed in our Book of Discipline under false pretenses, since the only thing about “the practice of homosexuality” that most General Conference delegates knew in 1972 was the way many gay rights advocates of the day acted out their anger at our society for demeaning and abusing – and, yes, sometimes killing – them and their gay brothers and lesbian sisters. In the last forty years, we have come to know that the vast majority of LGBTQ persons are loving, responsible, and often grace-filled persons, much as the vast majority of straight persons; so that the vestiges of heterosexism and homophobia in our BoD are shameful relics of a time long past and an attitude for which the Church must repent. The fact is that every negative reference in the Bible to same-sex sexual relations has more to do with the abuse of power and loveless indulgence in things of the flesh than it does the loving and responsible sexual relations between two persons of the same sex who are devoted to one another and their family. That conservatives refuse to acknowledge this simply shows their desire to use a longstanding and perverse interpretation of scripture to maintain their power in the Church at large – whether Methodist, Episcopal, Roman Catholic, or otherwise – even the Mormons pervert scripture in this way. It is time for us to follow the Spirit which “blows where it chooses” rather than remaining stuck in our adherence to constructs that owe more to human limitations and a judgmental spirit than to the Holy Spirit’s leading.

  7. I’m glad to see that Marsh Chapel is continuing its progressive defense of lgbt rights. My husband, the Rev. Darrick Jackson and I were the first same-sex couple publicly married at Marsh Chapel in 2005. The Dean at the time, The Rev. Dr. Robert Neville, was unable to preside at our wedding, and risked charges from the UMC by even preaching for us. Apparently, we started a trend. Thank you, Dean Hill, for your positive and continuing witness.

  8. The UMC church is caught in the same culture war as the rest of the country. Can it reconcile its people? At least Bob’s voice and others are speaking out for the “arc of justice”

  9. Hill basks in the earthly limelight of another triumph of pandering emotionalism, failing to rationally engage the incarnate nature of Christian thinking, or the question whether the notion of intrinsic or inborn lgbt-ness comports in any way with Christian freedom of will. Actually there is no theological or philosophical discussion at all from Hill in this piece. ‘ “Shut up,” he explained.’

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