Updated: Dec. 25, 2017

JACKSONVILLE, N.C. — Ryan Mould, who had been serving as the children’s choir director at Trinity United Methodist Church, was fired on Oct. 5 as a result of his discussion about his sexual orientation with Rev. Steve Smith.

Smith met with other church leaders to inform them that it was against denominational policy to keep Mould in a leadership position, Reconciling Ministries Network (RMN) reported.

However, the organization said that there was no such policy in existence. The Book of Discipline for the United Methodist denomination maintains that clergy cannot be “self-avowed, practicing homosexuals.” This rule, however, was not applicable to members in leadership positions in the church who are not clergy, RMN shared and added, “Leaders at Trinity UMC were falsely led to believe they had no other option but to dismiss Mould.”

Now Mould, who has been a member of the Jacksonville church for about four and a half year,  feels “disgraced, confused, and misled by church leaders.” The congregation was a “place where my values and morals were shaped and crafted. I now struggle with how to serve my church and ‘…do all in your power to strengthen its ministries…’” Mould, who was born in West Virgina, grew up in the Methodist church and has continued to be a member of Methodist congregations ever since.

The Book of Discipline states: “All persons, regardless of age, gender, marital status, or sexual orientation, are entitled to have their human and civil rights ensured and to be protected against violence,” when it comes to protecting the civil rights of church members.

RMN Executive Director Jan Lawrence said, “We are deeply troubled by the actions taken against Ryan. This is yet another painful example of why changing out denominational policies remains an urgent issue. Until all discriminatory policies are eradicated, they run the risk of being manipulated and exaggerated, broadening their potential for harm as evidenced in this painful situation.”

The organization is asking its members and others to sign an open letter to Bishop Hope Morgan Ward and the North Carolina Conference Cabinet which calls for the end of harmful actions such as the one regarding Mould. It also states that misuse of church policy should never occur again.

To sign the letter, go to bit.ly/2AOqyP4.

info: rum-nc.org.

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Lainey Millen

Lainey Millen was formerly QNotes' associate editor, special assignments writer, N.C. and U.S./World News Notes columnist and production director from 2001-2019 when she retired.