Nazarene Pastor Faces Removal Over Gay Marriage Support

A Church of the Nazarene pastor in California may be fired because of an essay he published supporting the blessing of same-sex marriage, despite the denomination’s orthodox stance on marriage and sexuality.

The Rev. Selden Dee Kelley III, senior pastor of the San Diego First Church of the Nazarene, intends to appeal a ruling that found him in violation of denominational clergy standards.

His decision was influenced by an essay he wrote in February titled “A Hope for Change,” which was included in a publication titled Why the Church of the Nazarene Should Be Fully LGBTQ+ Affirming.

In an interview with The Christian Post, Kelley said he has 30 days to file an appeal with the Regional Appeals Board.

“Yes, I will appeal. I have not filed yet,” Kelley said. “I am waiting on an official copy of the transcript of the hearing before I file the paperwork.”

Kelley said he has received much support from the congregation he has served as pastor for the last 17 years.

“The church has a beautiful diversity of viewpoints, and they exhibit the important trait of maintaining unity in the midst of diverse viewpoints. They have been incredibly kind, supportive and encouraging to me throughout this process,” he added.

The Christian Post contacted the Southern California District of the Church of the Nazarene for this story. A response was not received by press time.

According to the Church of the Nazarene Manual 2017-2021, under the section titled “Human Sexuality and Marriage,” the denomination holds “that it is God’s intention for our sexuality to be lived out in the covenantal union between one woman and one man.”

“While a person’s homosexual or bi-sexual attraction may have complex and differing origins, and the implication of this call to sexual purity is costly, we believe the grace of God is sufficient for such a calling,” the manual reads.

“We recognize the shared responsibility of the body of Christ to be a welcoming, forgiving, and loving community where hospitality, encouragement, transformation, and accountability are available to all.”

The section also denounces adultery, polygamy, sex between unmarried couples, pornography and sexual violence, arguing that “[s]exual sin and brokenness is not only personal but pervades the systems and structures of the world.”

Kelley told The San Diego Union-Tribune that Thomas Taylor, superintendent of the Southern California District of the Church of the Nazarene, had asked for his resignation. But after Kelley refused, Taylor began a hearing process in response to a complaint filed by a group of Nazarene elders not part of Kelley’s church.

The Church of the Nazarene, a member of the World Methodist Council, began during the nineteenth-century Wesleyan Holiness Movement. Today, the denomination has over 30,000 congregations and 2.6 million adherents worldwide. The denomination counts roughly 60 churches in the Southern California District.

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