Amanda & Ecclesia on their wedding day

Lesbian minister Ecclesia de Lange and her partner are in deep shock following the news that the Methodist Church has upheld her suspension. This was her final appeal against the sentence imposed at an earlier internal hearing.

On Wednesday, the Connexional Disciplinary Committee upheld the guilty verdict of the District Disciplinary Committee and sentenced Ecclesia to being “discontinued” from the ministry of the Methodist Church of Southern Africa.

“The sentence still needs to be ratified by the Presiding Bishop, but that is a mere formality”, said Andrew Treu, creator of the Ecclesia de Lange Facebook support group.

De Lange was first suspended in January when she announced to her Cape Town congregation that she had married her wife Amanda. The Methodist Church of Southern Africa does not recognise same-sex marriages.

“Ecclesia and Amanda are in deep shock and we are asking for your continued prayers and support for them at this time,” said Treu.

He added that de Lange was seeking legal advice and is planning the way forward. A press statement is expected in the coming days.

Christina Engela, from the South African Gay & Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation (SA GLAAD), condemned the news, describing it as “a shameful turn of events”. She said that “the Methodist Church of South Africa has today betrayed the trust of all its non heterosexual members and supporters”.

“The Methodist Church of South Africa has thus fumbled a perfect opportunity to right past wrongs, to truly show a meaningful welcome to the pink community in its ranks – and has instead chosen to compound them by affirming instead rejection and bigotry.”

Reverend Vuyani Nyobole, general secretary of the Methodist Church, confirmed the ruling to News24, saying that the Church’s position is that marriage is a commitment between a man and a woman.

De Lange’s Facebook group has been flooded with messages of condolences at the outcome of the hearing from angry and saddened supporters.

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