When Benjamin Hutchison was hired as a pastor at Cassopolis United Methodist Church in Southwest Michigan, the church was on the verge of shutting.
Attendance had dried up, and if a big change didn’t come, the doors might have shut for good.
Hutchinson ended up being that change, quadrupling the church’s numbers in the first eight weeks he preached. But he also did more than that, attending regular county and village meetings and truly connecting with his community beyond the pulpit.
When it was discovered that Hutchinson had married his male partner, church officials told him he was “unfit” to lead the congregation. He was fired the same day.
Now that same congregation — the one he built — is speaking out in Hutchinson’s defense.
“This church was dying when he came here, they weren’t far from closing the doors. It was real close. He came in, worked on it, got people to come…He brought life back into that church,” said Kevin Hershberger, a church member.
“His message was, it’s in the Book of Discipline that we’ve got open doors to everybody. We welcome everybody, apparently, except for the pastor,” he continued.
Another church goer, James Solloway, told Fox 7: “He’s a great guy, the community will suffer a great loss with him gone. What his personal life is his personal business.”
And while we find it moving (not to mention promising) that a congregation would speak out in support of their gay pastor, we also have to wonder: Why would they choose to stay at the church if they don’t believe in its moral code? Isn’t that what belonging to a church is all about?
It almost starts to sound like a battered spouse defending their partner. “He may not treat me right, and sure he hurts me every now and then, but gosh darn’it if I can’t stay away from those big blue eyes.”