The Korean Methodist Church‘s court is firm on its decision to suspend Reverend Lee Dong Hwan for two years as punishment for blessing the attendees of a queer festival in 2019.
The court justified its decision by explaining, “According to the creed of the Methodist Church, praying in front of sexual minorities can be seen as advocating or agreeing with their actions.”
This explained why the court denied an appeal made by the 42-year-old pastor of Glory Jeil Church in Suwon, Gyeonggi Province.
On August 31, 2019, Lee went onstage at the Incheon Queer Festival, threw flower petals, offered a prayer, and blessed those in attendance.
By September 4, 2019, he was reported by the Incheon Pastor’s Gathering for Healthy Society, represented by Pastor Seong Jung Kyeong, and the Chungcheong Annual Conference of the Korean Methodist Church, represented by Pastor Lee Gu-il to the Gyeonggi Annual Conference for violating the Book of Doctrines and Discipline by advocating and agreeing with homosexuality.
The church authorities accused Lee of supporting gay relationships after he gave his blessing to the attendees of the Incheon Queer Culture Festival. Lee was saddened by the decision and noted the backlash the church garnered due to the decision.
We have witnessed the ‘mechanism of hatred’ accumulated by the Korean church. Through the process of this trial, the Methodist Church has proven precisely how much of a discriminative and outdated group it is. As a member of the church, I am deeply ashamed and saddened (by the ruling.)
— Reverend Lee Dong Hwan
The Korean Methodist Church is steadfastly against homosexuality and added a clause in 2015 to its law that defined the advocacy of homosexuality as misconduct. Lee’s suspension is the first application of this clause.
Currently, there is no statement representing all Methodists worldwide on the issue of homosexuality. The policies and implementation vary for each group. British Methodists allow ministers to bless same-sex marriages and have even allowed John Wesley’s New Room, the oldest Methodist building in Bristol, England, as of last year, to be available for LGBT weddings.