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Openly Gay Pastor Forced to Resign for Having a Relationship

gay pastor

'It wasn’t only my place of employment — it was the love of my life.'

After three years as a senior pastor at United Methodist Church in Cassopolis, Michigan, Reverend Benjamin Hutchison says he was forced to resign or faced being fired for having a life partner.

Hutchison had been openly gay to -- and accepted by -- his congregation since joining the church in January 2013. Just a month later, the pastor legally changed his last name to his partner's.

"I've never been shy about it, and I won't hide from it," Hutchison told WSBT. "Monty Hutchison is my life partner and that's who he is to me."

The pastor was then obviously surprised Monday night, when hours after the church's district superintendent asked him if he had a gay partner, he was given the choice to resign or be fired.

"It wasn't only my place of employment," Rev. Hutchison said. "It was the love of my life."

Hutchison's congregation is also stunned and upset, manifesting their grief in black tulle draped over the pastor's pulpit and chair.

According to church-goer Kevin Hershberger, United Methodist was "dying" before Rev. Hutchison came along and he "brought life back into that church." Hershberger added that while Hutchison's sexuality was well-known, no one had a "problem" with it.

"I knew when we started that he was gay, but he's not in your face about it," Hershberger told MLive. "He's not asking you to be gay. All he wanted was friends. In Cass, he found acceptance. That means a lot to him and everybody in that church."

Hutchison knew when taking the position that it was against United Methodist discipline, which accepts gay parishioners, but not gay clergymen. In response, the United Methodist Church issued a statement that the" church's official position on these matters" will be discussed in May 2016 during a general conference.

As for Hutchison, he plans to marry his partner outside the Cass County courthouse today and hopes to pursue a job in social work and ultimately a doctorate in clinical psychology.

"I'm still waiting for the shell shock to wear off," Hutchison said. "I'm looking forward to being married to my husband. I'm looking forward to our next chapter together."

Les Fabian Brathwaite -- draped in tulle.

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Les Fabian Brathwaite