Free shipping over $99 | Interest Free *no credit check* financing is available!

Malcolm Gladwell Profiles Pastor Defrocked For Officiating Gay Son’s Wedding

by Jeff Taylor August 15, 2016

chester wenger

Chester Wenger (seated, right) and Sara Jane Wenger (seated, left) at the wedding of their son, Phil Wenger, (standing at right), and Steve Dinnocenti. AP Photo.

When retired Mennonite pastor Chester Wenger defied his church to officiate his son’s same-sex wedding, he knew it would likely lead to reprisal from the church.

In fact, he reported himself. They responded by revoking his ministerial credentials, which he had since 1948.

Related: Mennonite Church Casts Out Gay-Inclusive Flock

Writer and commentator Malcolm Gladwell featured Wenger on the most recent episode of his podcast Revisionist History, in which he says Wenger is an exemplar of “generous orthodoxy,” the theme and title of the episode. He was willing to suffer a loss in order to do what was right, while showing “respect for the body he is trying to heal.”

Wenger, 98, said that at first he thought his son Phil might just be going through a phase when he came to him and said he was gay. When Phil told him a year later that it was not just a phase, and that he would begin identifying as gay and his father would just have to learn to live with it, Wenger came to terms with it.

Phil was expelled from the Mennonite Church by a clergy member, without speaking to either Phil or Phil’s parents.

He stressed to his son that all he cared about was that he not lose his faith. So he was pleased when his son joined an Episcopal Church, a denomination known to be more accepting of LGBTQ people. So pleased he was “weeping with joy,” according to Phil.

Related: Adele Helps Gay Couple Get Engaged

When same-sex marriage became legal in Pennsylvania, where they all live, Phil and his partner Steve was married in a ceremony officiated by the rector of his church. Wenger gave a blessing at the end, but later admitted that he had wished his son had asked him to officiate his wedding, so they had another ceremony with Wegner officiating, leading to the action against him.

Wenger wrote an open letter to the Mennonite Church titled “An open letter to my beloved church,” calling for more acceptance of LGBTQ individuals. It went viral.

Gladwell highlights the following passage as his favorite:

When my wife and I read the Bible with today’s fractured, anxious church in mind, we ask, what is Jesus calling us to do with those sons and daughters who are among the most despised people in the world — in all races and communities? What would Jesus do with our sons and daughters who are bullied, homeless, sexually abused, and driven to suicide at far higher rates than our heterosexual children?

He concludes that while Wenger’s viewpoint may not be winning out just yet, it undoubtedly will. Maybe not soon, but on a long enough time line it is inevitable.

Related: LGBTQ Rights Groups Ask Big 12 Not To Allow BYU To Join Due To Discriminatory Policies

The United Methodist Church is going through a similar struggle, with the Reconciling Ministries Network working from within for LGBTQ equality since the early 1980s. A Methodist minster looked to be facing trial after officiating at the same-sex wedding of his son, before the church decided against that action.

The episode also explores student led efforts to have the name of Woodrow Wilson, former university president and U.S. president, removed from the university’s graduate school due to his racist views. You can listen to it here.

h/t The Advocate

Jeff Taylor
Jeff Taylor


Leave a comment

Comments will be approved before showing up.

Also in Think

Mike Yenni Responds To The Whole Sexting-With-A-Teen-Boy Scandal Then Promptly Goes Into Hiding

by Graham Gremore September 30, 2016

It’s been a rough day for Mike Yenni, the “happily married with one daughter” Republican from Louisiana who was just outed for allegedly having an affair with a 17-year-old Catholic school boy. According to local New Orleans news station WWL-TV, 40-year-old Yenni, the former mayor of Kenner, LA and current Jefferson Parish President, allegedly sexted with the teenager while he was [...]

Continue Reading →

Everyone Is Freaking Out About Solange’s New Album “A Seat At The Table”

by Derek de Koff September 30, 2016

Solange’s first offering since 2012’s EP True dropped today, and critics haven’t been stingy with superlatives when describing the rush of listening to the album. Related: Beyonce Speaks Out Against Anti-LGBT Law, Says “Y’all Means All” The Guardian calls A Seat at the Table “a stately, sprawling celebration of black identity” that displays an “artful, keening single-mindedness.” Mashable gushed that “her ethereal [...]

Continue Reading →

Teen’s Story About Hooking Up With Married Politician Sounds Awfully Like Mike Yenni

by Graham Gremore September 30, 2016

So we already told you about Mike Yenni, the conservative politician from Louisiana who was just outed for allegedly having an affair with an anonymous 17-year-old Catholic school boy/mall food court employee. Local Louisiana news station WWL-TV broke the story last night. Well, we think–emphasis on the word think–we’ve found the guy. His name is Alex Daigle and he’s 19 now, [...]

Continue Reading →