Screenshot 2023-01-13 at 1.50.18 PM


Reporting the Truth.
Restoring the Church.

California Pastor Faces Removal from Church Due to Gay Marriage Stance

By Liz Lykins
In July 2021, Rev. Dee Kelley preaches at the San Diego First Church of the Nazarene. (Video screengrab)

A California pastor affiliated with the Church of the Nazarene may be removed from his position due to an essay he wrote supporting same-sex marriage.

While the Nazarene denomination holds a traditional stance on marriage and sexuality, Rev. Dee Kelley, senior pastor at San Diego First Church of the Nazarene, wrote an essay in February titled “A Hope for Change.” The essay appears among 90 submissions in a publication titled, “Why the Church of the Nazarene Should Be Fully LGBTQ+ Affirming. Kelley states his support of same-sex marriage in the essay and his desire to marry and bless same-sex couples. 

“One of my primary reasons for writing this brief essay is to encourage further dialogue among the clergy concerning LGBTQIA+ issues,” he said in the essay. “I believe that our viewpoints are spread across the spectrum. I fear that we are headed for a crisis confrontation just like other denominations before us.”

According to the San Diego Union-Tribune, regional Nazarene leadership informed Kelley on Aug. 14 that a judiciary process found he was in violation of denominational clergy standards because of his essay. This made him no longer eligible to serve as the pastor of First Church. 

Typically when a pastor in the Church of the Nazarene is “accused of conduct unbecoming a minister or of teaching doctrines out of harmony with the doctrinal statement of the Church of the Nazarene,” the concerns are taken to the regional district superintendent who presents it to the District Advisory Board, according to the denomination’s 2017-2021 manual

Give a gift of $30 or more to The Roys Report this month, and you will receive a copy of “I Didn’t Survive: Emerging Whole After Deception, Persecution, and Hidden Abuse” by Naghmeh Abedini Panahi. To donate, click here.

San Diego First Church of the Nazarene in northern California. (Photo via Facebook)

After the board investigates the facts, they can administer discipline for the offense, such as repentance, confession, restitution, suspension or expulsion from the ministry.

The accused is then entitled to appeal the decision within 30 days to the Regional Court of Appeals, provided the accused has suspended ministry activity. Kelley plans to make an appeal, according to the Christian Post.

The Roys Report (TRR) reached out to the Southern California District of the Church of the Nazarene and District Superintendent Thomas Taylor for comment. No response was received by press time. 

Kelley has served as senior pastor at his church since 2006. Prior to this, he served on the administrative cabinets at three Nazarene universities.

“I am passionate about God’s love,” Kelley shared on the church’s website. “I serve at a church that is unlike any place I have been in regard to affirmation, support and receptivity.”

In an interview with The Christian Post, Kelley said he has received much support from his congregation regarding his position on LGBTQ issues.

kelley nazarene
Rev. Dee Kelley (Photo via church)

“The church has a beautiful diversity of viewpoints, and they exhibit the important trait of maintaining unity in the midst of diverse viewpoints. They have been incredibly kind, supportive, and encouraging to me throughout this process,” he said.

TRR contacted First Church board member, Dr. Dean Nelson, for further comment but did not hear back prior to publication. 

The Church of the Nazarene denomination holds that “the practice of same-sex sexual intimacy is contrary to God’s will for human sexuality,” according to the 2017-2021 manual.

“While a person’s homosexual or bi-sexual attraction may have complex and differing origins, and the implication of this call to sexual purity is costly, we believe the grace of God is sufficient for such a calling,” the manual continues. 

This section also states that the denomination believes Christians should refrain from unmarried sexual intercourse, adultery, polygamy, pornography, and sexual violence. 

The Church of the Nazarene first found its “spiritual vision” based on John Wesley’s preaching in the early 19th century, according to its website. The faith community strives to “take the good news of life in Jesus Christ to people everywhere.”

Today, the denomination states it has 2.5 million members worshipping in more than 30,000 congregations worldwide.

The Church of the Nazarene is just one of several denominations that have struggled with disagreements over same-sex marriage and homosexuality. 

Discord over homosexuality in the Methodist Church has caused more than 5,550 churches to disaffiliate from the United Methodist Church. The dissolutions stem from the denomination’s decision to uphold bans on blessing same-sex marriages and on the ordination of LGBTQ+ clergy in 2019.

Other denominations, including the Reformed Church in America and the Anglican Church have experienced similar issues in the past few years. Across the United States, support for homosexuality is increasing. A 2019 study by the Pew Research Center found that 72% of people said that homosexuality should be accepted by society, compared with 49% in 2007. However, the results were very different in less developed countries, like India and Kenya, where support was at 37% and 14% respectively. 

Freelance journalist Liz Lykins writes for WORLD Magazine, Christianity Today, Ministry Watch, and other publications.



Keep in touch with Julie and get updates in your inbox!

Don’t worry we won’t spam you.

More to explore

22 thoughts on “California Pastor Faces Removal from Church Due to Gay Marriage Stance”

  1. If he has been in the CON since at least 2006 he should know they are not changing their theological stance on the binary nature of God’s creation. When pastors become apostate, then it is incumbent upon them to leave in peace, not expect the church to change its doctrine to meet their subjective viewpoint.

    Being a credentialed pastor in the CON many years ago I would not expect they would change. We can love without affirming sin.


  2. This pastor is clearly wrong and is promoting heresy. He will also lead those that need to leave the lifestyle astray and give them false hope. Below is a short talk by Calvin Robinson, a godly pastor from England who will a strong scriptural defense on why homosexuality and marriage is wrong. Take the time to listen nd you will understand why our Lord prohibits it.

  3. ““The church has a beautiful diversity of viewpoints, and they exhibit the important trait of maintaining unity in the midst of diverse viewpoints.” [Dee Kelley].

    I like this phrasing. I might replace “unity” with ‘connection’ (a respect and empathy relation).

    Where the CofZ manual says: “the practice of same-sex sexual intimacy is contrary to God’s will for human sexuality”; I would argue that God is only known by human individuals, through belief and faith, such that the spectrum idea of diverse viewpoints kicks in, such that diverse views on “God’s will” are then irreducibly in play.

    The disaffiliations in the Methodist Church, then powerfully represents this diversity truth and fact in Christianity. Sadly, the Christian commitment to unity, to the very hard work of developing and reaching spiritual perspective that sustains unity (connection, respect, empathy) is proving not strong enough. Church, as with the secular polity, succumbing to polarisation and disconnection. Such that addressing the crises yielded up by polarisation, has to take priority over pretty much everything in the human arena of understanding and meaning and belief and faith.

    1. Hello Colin,
      Though there are many places/issues where we see the Church polarizing where it should not, this is not one of them.
      Embracing a doctrine that affirms homosexuality as good as well a secular view of human sexuality that is at odds with clear scripture is actually one of the issues that REQUIRES clear delineation.
      There is a time to speak and a time to be silent. We can never prioritize unity above walking in the Truth.

  4. I give it until 2024 until JRR officially supports homosexuality. This article is just a bit of primer for that pump.

  5. Sigh…you cannot affirm what scripture clearly calls out as sin as being “normal”, “acceptable”, “natural” and so a good thing. That is calling evil “good”, not that people in the gay community are evil (though, to be honest, some are).

    Yes, we are to love those who hate us. But that does not mean we must agree with what they believe anymore than we can demand they agree with what we believe.

    The world is descending into madness, has been for some time now. Our work is clear, to love people and help them understand their need for a Saviour, for Jesus. And once they come to believe and follow Him, they must also understand they have to put away their former life, their sinful ways, and embrace the true way of Christ Jesus.

  6. It seems that he knew this would happen and chose to go this route anyway. That is the most interesting part of the story to me, not his position of being affirming.

    Nazarene are such an interesting denomination. They are extremely socially conservative in some areas, but quite progressive (for evangelicalism) in others. Fifty years ago you might be able to play cards at a Baptist church, and not a Nazarene. But the Nazarene church might have had a woman preaching.

  7. The Bible is very plain on the issue of homosexuality. Read Gen.13:13; Gen.18:16-33; Gen.19 concerning Sodom and Gomorrah and then look at 2 Pet.2:1-9 and Jude 1-8 how Sodom was set up for an example. Lev.18:22 and Lev.20:13 call it an abomination. Rev.21:8 deals with the fate of the abominable! Asa did the right thing by putting away the Sodomites(1 Kings 15:11-14).
    Jesus warned of this day and age in Luke 17:26-33. He referred to “the days of Lot!” He also referred to Sodom and Gomorrah in Matt.11:23&23. Plus the LORD Abraham was talking to in Gen.18:16-33 is Jesus in a Christophany!
    Rom.1:18-32 shows what happens when a nation forgets God and allows homosexuality in it! 1 Cor.6:9-11 refers to homosexuality as one of the unrighteous who shall not inherit the kingdom of God but also says that one can be saved and SET FREE from homosexuality(Matt.1:21;
    John 8:31-36; Rom.6; Rom.8; 2 Cor.5:17)!
    In closing this preacher should be subject to Rom.16:17; 1 Cor.5; Titus 3:9-11)! If he repents and ONLY if he repents then practice 2 Cor.2 and Gal.6:1)

    1. And marriage:

      Mark 10:
      6 But from the beginning of the creation God made them male and female.
      7 For this cause shall a man leave his father and mother, and cleave to his wife; 8 And they twain shall be one flesh: so then they are no more twain, but one flesh. 9 What therefore God hath joined together, let not man put asunder.
      10 And in the house his disciples asked him again of the same matter. 11 And he saith unto them, Whosoever shall put away his wife, and marry another, committeth adultery against her. 12 And if a woman shall put away her husband, and be married to another, she committeth adultery.

      Mt 19:
      4 And he answered and said unto them, Have ye not read, that he which made them at the beginning made them male and female, 5 And said, For this cause shall a man leave father and mother, and shall cleave to his wife: and they twain shall be one flesh?
      6 Wherefore they are no more twain, but one flesh. What therefore God hath joined together, let not man put asunder.

    2. Tom Getchell-Lacey

      Wow, I never thought about any of these passages when I came to the conclusion that the Church should ordain those who are called to full time Christian ministry whether or not they are heterosexual. If only I had known…

  8. Dee Kelley was my chaplain in college (SNU). I liked him, and have kept tabs on his whereabouts over the years. This is not the first time Dee has courted controversy on the subject of homosexuality, and has caused difficulties for Point Loma University when he gave a platform to students who were disciplined about the issue of sexuality. There was a blowup in 2010 about it.

    The article says that Dee wanted to spark a conversation about Homosexuality. That isn’t why his credentials were revoked. In the essay, Dee says:

    “(1) A person with same-sex attraction should be allowed to marry. (2) Nazarene clergy should be allowed to perform same-sex marriage ceremonies if they desire to do so. (3) Nazarene clergy should feel free to bless same-sex ceremonies.”

    He cites the Nazarene Manual, and states that its doctrines are wrong, in detail. Does so in writing, in a book that is published for the purpose of challenging the church’s doctrines.

    When a person (such as myself) is entrusted with the pastoral mantle in a denomination, they agree to abide by the organization’s rules, and state that they believe and will support the doctrines of the church. There is always a little wiggle room, because people aren’t 2-dimensional platforms of beliefs, but that is still the basic expectation.

    Dee publicly rebuked his organization, in detail, and stated his affirmation of a set of beliefs explicitly contrary to Nazarene (dare I say Christian) doctrines. He had to go.

    I applaud the Church of the Nazarene for having the doctrinal clarity and moral courage to remove Dee. Something my own UMC has emphatically refused to do.

  9. Regardless of how one feels or thinks about this issue it is and will be one of the most controversial issues facing Evangelicals over the next several years.

  10. Much of the New Testament was written to combat lies that were creeping into churches from the culture. The apostle John warns regarding such false teachers in I John 4:5, “They are from the world and therefore speak from the viewpoint of the world…” Further, Jude 4 states regarding these deceivers, “…They are ungodly people, who pervert the grace of our God into a license for immorality.” Do you see alarming ideas from secular culture invading your church? RUN for the exit! — Something To Think About

  11. “Or do you not know that wrongdoers will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived: Neither the sexually immoral nor idolaters nor adulterers nor men who have sex with men nor thieves nor the greedy nor drunkards nor slanderers nor swindlers will inherit the kingdom of God. And that is what some of you were. But you were washed, you were sanctified, you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and by the Spirit of our God.”

  12. I’m grateful that the Church of the Nazarene, unlike the United Methodist Church, is willing to enforce it’s own polity, based on Scriptural truth. The UMC continues to live in “a state of disorder due to absence or nonrecognition of authority or other controlling systems” (Definition of anarchy from Oxford Languages). What makes it worse is that those in authority aren’t willing to enforce their own rules.

  13. I remember as a little kid divorce and remarriage was a big issue. Is divorce/remarriage even an issue anymore in the Evangelical church?

    I think same-sex marriage/unions will go the same route in the U.S. Evangelical church….

    A simple scenario… you receive a wedding invitation from your wife’s sister. It seems the wedding will be for a same-sex couple. Of course you will not be attending…. oh wait it is your sister-in-law…. so you ask your pastor about what to do…..

    He mentions using your conscience and keeping the communication lines open…and other stuff blah blah blah…

    So in two months time….you find yourself attending and affirming the same-sex couple at the wedding ceremony…


  14. Daniel L Busetti

    The Nazarenes are a few years behind other Protestant denominations when it comes to confronting same sex marriage and sexual morality. Inevitably, all denominations including the so-called non-denominations will face the same challenge and many church splits lie ahead. Too many churches have tolerated hetero sexual sin and sex abuse but take a hard line when it comes to same sex issues. Apparently, their parishioners haven’t noticed the hypocrisy or don’t care.

Leave a Reply

The Roys Report seeks to foster thoughtful and respectful dialogue. Toward that end, the site requires that people register before they begin commenting. This means no anonymous comments will be allowed. Also, any comments with profanity, name-calling, and/or a nasty tone will be deleted.
MOST popular articles

Don't miss the stories that matter!

Sign up to receive our Daily News Digest


Hi. We see this is the third article this month you’ve found worth reading. Great! Would you consider making a tax-deductible donation to help our journalists continue to report the truth and restore the church?

Your tax-deductible gift helps our journalists report the truth and hold Christian leaders and organizations accountable. Give a gift of $30 or more to The Roys Report this month, and you will receive a copy of “The Ballot and the Bible” by Kaitlyn Schiess.