News has broken of another LGBTQ-related employment dispute, this time involving a gay music minister in Georgia.
John Thomas McCecil served Our Lady of the Mount Church as its music minister for more than a decade until church officials pushed him out because he is gay. The Atlanta Journal Constitution reported about McCecil’s resignation from the Lookout Mountain, Georgia church:
“[I]n a sad turn of events a few months ago, John Thomas says he was forced to resign because, in church parlance, he was in a ‘questionable’ relationship [a phrase in his contract]. . .
“If you’re still wondering what that means exactly, here it is in more simple terms: John Thomas is happily married to a man. He’s gay.
“That fact was known by church administrators at Our Lady, and as far as he could discern, no one really cared.
“Then John Thomas Cecil had the audacity to fall in love, marry Jesse McDowell and post his nuptials on his Facebook page.”
A month after McCecil posted on Facebook, Father Tom Shuler, pastor, asked to meet with him. Shuler told McCecil the music minister would have to resign over the same-gender relationship. The priest and the Archdiocese of Atlanta are not commenting on the employment dispute, but Shuler told the Courant that he was aware McCecil was gay for several years and had no problems with that. The priest paid McCecil no severance, but did give him a crystal cross upon departure.
Vikki Mills, a parishioner with a gay son, expressed shock at the forced resignation, which caused her and her husband to leave the parish:
” ‘We’ve really been struggling with it . . . He took away the most beautiful singer that brought us to tears, over and over. For years, he completed the Mass with his beautiful songs. The rest of us are suffering because of this awful decision.’ “
McCecil is one of dozens of church employees who have lost their jobs in LGBTQ-related employment disputes, many of which were over same-gender marriages. But there is nothing “questionable” about such relationships, and church employees should not be discriminated against for being in them. As Vikki Mills pointed out, it is not only the church employee and their loved ones who suffer, it is the whole community, too.
For Bondings 2.0’s full coverage of church employment issues, click here or click the “Employment Issues” category on the right-hand side of this page. For New Ways Ministry’s resources on church employment and LGBTQ issues here.
—Robert Shine, New Ways Ministry, October 16, 2019