Annie Britton was preparing for ordained ministry in the United Methodist Church when she came out to the congregation she was leading in Southwestern Massachusetts; she had been keeping her wedding ring hidden because she was married to a woman. The announcement left her ineligible to continue her ministry at that church and ended her ordination process, or so she thought.
Britton continued to study at Boston University’s School of Theology, and she was approached by the Rev. Susan Morrison, a pastor at another nearby church. Morrison explained that there was a movement within the denomination that is attempting “to model what the United Methodist Church can be.”
“We have other progressive organizations working to reform the denomination, and it became our vision that we would be the church that we wanted to be,” Morrison said. “We would not leave the denomination or try to change it, but be the change.”
So Church within the Church held what it called the “extraordinary ordination” ceremony in Baltimore at which it says it ordained Britton, as well as a heterosexual woman, Jenna Zirbel, who could not be ordained in the United Methodist Church because she refused to say she supports the church’s position on sexuality. The ordination ceremony was ecumenical, featuring two retired United Methodist bishops, as well other Christian clergy.
The United Methodist Church does not recognize the ordinations, which took place on Oct. 19.
Here’s a photo of Britton before her ordination from the Baltimore Sun, and lots more pictures here.
Story from the Boston Globe here.
More information on the Church Within a Church movement is here.