Congregants at former church of gay Methodist pastor rally at bishop's office

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By: Associated Press

LANSING, Mich. (AP) — United Methodist clergy and churchgoers have held a press conference outside the bishop’s office in Lansing in support of an openly gay pastor who says he was forced to resign.

More than 50 supporters of the Rev. Benjamin Hutchison were at the demonstration on Tuesday. Advocates taped a pledge to the office door asking for LGBT inclusiveness in the church, which accepts gay members but not openly gay pastors.

Hutchison says he resigned earlier this month from Cassopolis United Methodist Church after church leaders asked about his same-sex partner. He married his partner several days later outside the Cass County Courthouse in southwestern Michigan.

In a statement, Michigan Area Bishop Deborah Lieder Kiesey said she grieves “for this painful place” the church finds itself, and asked for “prayers for people on all sides of these issues.”