The Rev. Ken Kline Smeltzer was terminated from his position as pastor of a Central Pennsylvania congregation for performing the wedding of two men this summer.
The ceremony was held at the home of State College Mayor Elizabeth Gorehem in August, after Montgomery County Register of Wills D. Bruce Hanes began issuing marriage licenses to same-sex couples. Gorehem pledged to marry couples at her home but, on the advice of attorneys, changed her mind and instead invited Smeltzer to preside over the wedding of two men from Pike County.
But, when Smeltzer’s church learned of his involvement, he was reportedly fired.
Multiple calls to Gorehem’s office were not returned as of presstime.
Smeltzer, 62, declined to publicly identify his congregation, but the Associated Press reported it to be Burnham Church of the Brethren, in Burnham.
Calls to the church from PGN were unanswered.
The Associated Press reported that an official for the national denomination based in Illinois confirmed that Smeltzer was an employee of the congregation, but did not identify his dates of employment. The official noted congregations have their own hiring practices, and pastors are not appointed or nominated by church hierarchy.
The Church of the Brethren is a Protestant denomination with German roots. It has stated policies against homosexuality, calling same-sex relationships “not acceptable.”
Smeltzer is listed as one of six members on the website for the Progressive Brethren Council, a group founded in 2007 for Brethren-identified individuals who celebrate diversity and “who are all wrestling with what it means to be people of faith in this time and setting.”