Gay United Methodist choir director fired

After serving as children’s choir director at a United Methodist church for more than three years, Ryan Mould said he was fired and told the denomination does not allow homosexuals to be “spiritual leaders.”

Mould, 29, said the pastor and staff parish relations committee of Trinity United Methodist Church in Jacksonville, North Carolina, cited The United Methodist Book of Discipline to justify his firing.

However, his supporters said that The United Methodist Church’s lawbook does not state gay people cannot hold leadership roles such as choir directors. The church does not allow self-avowed practicing homosexuals to become ordained clergy and does not allow churches to conduct same-sex weddings.

Mould said he never made it a secret that he was gay.

The pastor of Trinity, the Rev. Steve Smith, said he couldn’t discuss the firing.

“Because this is a confidential personnel matter, I am unable to offer comments or answer questions at this time,” Smith said in response to a request for an interview from United Methodist News Service. The chair of the church’s staff parish relations committee did not respond to e-mail from the news service.

The North Carolina Conference issued a statement that it was aware of the action but that personnel decisions regarding a lay employee are made entirely by the local church.

“Conference leaders continue to be in conversation with the parties, offering conflict transformation resources in the continued work toward healing, faithfulness and justice,” the statement said.

The Rev. Linda Taylor, district superintendent for Sound District, said she had no comment on a local church personnel matter.

The firing has caused some to leave the church, but Mould continues to attend every week even though he said he feels “blindsided” and hurt by the action.

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