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Orland Park pastor backs off decision to preside over same-sex marriage

Updated: June 12, 2014 7:04AM



A pastor who initially agreed to marry same-sex members of his Orland Park congregation in the church regrets having to tell the couple it wasn’t going to happen there.

Pastor Caleb Hong called his decision to preside over a June marriage ceremony for Ann and Holly Cook-Graver at Faith United Methodist Church in Orland Park without first talking with the church leadership a “mistake.”

Hong told the couple in December the ceremony would happen inside the building but, in March, said it would have to take place elsewhere.

Ann Cook-Graver declined to comment about the situation when reached Saturday at her Orland Park home.

“It was with great regret that I informed Ann and Holly that I could not preside at their wedding in the church building,” Hong said in a written statement. “I grieve the pain and turmoil that I have caused their family,”

The pastor said he preferred to give written comments instead of speaking on the phone.

Hong wrote that he wrestled with the decision about whether to marry the couple in light of The Book of Discipline, which sets United Methodist Church law and governs its clergy.

“I realized that I had committed not only myself, but our local congregation and its resources to act in a way that is currently prohibited by The Book of Discipline,” Hong said.

Hong offered to officiate their wedding at a different church but the couple declined.

Illinois is one of 18 states that recognizes gay marriage rights. In November, Gov. Pat Quinn signed signed a bill, which takes effect June 1, allowing same-sex couples to wed.

“In the coming weeks, we will enter into a process of dialogue about how to care for Ann and Holly’s family and how we can live in response to The Book of Discipline in light of the recent changes in Illinois state law regarding same-sex marriage,” Hong said.



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