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Methodists Shut Down WeHo Church For Being 'Too Gay,' Pastor Says
This Sunday will be the last service at Crescent Heights United Methodist Church in West Hollywood before the congregation is dissolved.
The official line from the local Methodist district is that the congregation was too small to sustain, but its pastor believes it's because his church is too gay and too liberal.
"I'm a gay, pro-medical marijuana pastor," Pastor Scott Imler told West Hollywood Patch. "The United Methodist Church is becoming increasingly conservative and our church is too gay for them."
The church's population had dwindled when a popular pastor left in 2005. But when Imler took over, he said district officials assured him that his church would not be discontinued.
That changed after Imler thrust the church into the political battle over gay marriage. He pushed Methodist church officials in 2008 to oppose Prop. 8, which made same-sex marriages in California illegal. When the initiative failed, he said he got the cold shoulder from district officials.
Church district officials declined to address Imler's allegations. However, Rev. Dr. Cedrick Bridgeforth, the superintendent of the church's LA district, told Patch, "Our hope, our strategy, is that we will continue. Our commitment is to still be here. That is the message. It doesn't benefit anyone to have another empty building."
Patch reports that the church building will still be open, but in a different capacity:
Although the congregation is being dissolved, the building will stay open and Imler will remain its caretaker. The nonprofits and 12-step groups that meet there will still be able to call the church home, at least for now.