Seattle Times, 14 May 2004
Dammann decides not to return to congregation
By Shannon Dinniny
The Associated Press
YAKIMA -- The Rev. Karen Dammann, a lesbian pastor who was the focus
of a church trial, has chosen not to return to her Ellensburg, Wash. church,
a United Methodist official said today.
Dammann chose to remain on family leave rather than return to First
United Methodist Church in the central Washington city, said the Rev.
Ron Hines, superintendent of the Pacific Northwest Conference's Seven
"Karen is still a pastor in good standing with the conference. It was
her choice that she continue on family leave," Hines said.
Dammann, 47, declared her sexual preference in February 2001, when
she sought a new church appointment. After receiving Dammann's
letter, Northwest Conference Bishop Elias Galvan, under church
orders, filed a complaint against her.
Clergy in the conference voted to retain Dammann, but the
denomination's Judicial Council reversed that decision last fall.
In March, a jury of 13 pastors meeting in Bothell acquitted Dammann
of violating Methodist law even though she acknowledged she had a
female partner. The trial decision figured prominently at the
Methodist national policy meeting last week in Pittsburgh, where
discord over gay-related issues showed a deep rift in the nation's
Church law prohibits the ordination of self-avowed, practicing
homosexuals. The church's Book of Discipline declares homosexuality
to be "incompatible to Christian teachings," although the church's
social principles support gay rights and liberties.
Hines said Galvan intends to appoint the Rev. Katherine Makus of
Colfax to the Ellensburg church during the Northwest Conference's
annual meeting next month.
Dammann married her partner of nine years, Meredith Savage, in Oregon
in February. She has been on family leave for more than two years,
caring for her son, who has a respiratory illness.
Dammann had previously said she hoped to eventually return to her
Ellensburg congregation as pastor.