Michael Tupper, pastor of Parchment United Methodist Church in Michigan, is protesting the exclusion of LGBTQ church members and officiates by sleeping outdoors in a tent in this frigid Michigan winter.
“’It’s to symbolize how our church — particularly the United Methodist Church — is pushing LGBT people outside,’ he said. ‘It symbolizes how we push LGBT people out of the church and into the cold.’”
Tupper says he first became more aware of the exclusionary tactics of his church when his adult daughter came out to him as a lesbian and then asked him to officiate her wedding. The United Methodist Church does not allow its pastors to officiate same-sex weddings, as evidenced when Reverand Frank Schaefer was defrocked for officiating his son’s wedding to another man. Schaefer was later reinstated as pastor, who said that:
“’I never did understand the severity of my punishment for an act of love for my son Tim. The committee of appeals understood that my defrocking sought to penalize me not for what I did but for what I might do in the future…But more importantly, today’s decision by the committee is a hopeful sign for our LGBTQ community. They recognized that I was wrongfully punished for standing with those who are discriminated against.’”
For Tupper, the issue became personal with his daughter’s coming out, but since then, he’s also stood in support of other LGBTQ folks who are marginalized by the United Methodist Church. For instance, Tupper protested the defrocking of Reverend Monty Hutchinson in July of 2015.
“The Rev. Benjamin David Hutchison started last week with his forced resignation from his supportive United Methodist congregation. His removal came after his district superintendent received a complaint that Hutchison was openly gay and in a relationship.
By Friday, Hutchison had married his longtime partner, Monty, at the county courthouse with nearly 30 United Methodist pastors in attendance.”
Since then, Tupper has been adamant and vocal about his disappointment with the church’s lack of inclusion and diversity among its members and leaders. He plans to protest by sleeping in his tent outside of the General Conference this year to remind others of the struggle to extend God’s message to all people, regardless of their gender identities and sexual orientations.
See Reverend Tupper’s interview about Hutchinson’s marriage below and let’s hope more pastors and other church leaders stand up in protest of the discrimination of LGBTQ folks!