by Monte Sahlin
By Adventist Today News Team, December 12, 2013
Pastor Brett Hadley, chaplain and Bible teacher at Highland View Academy in Maryland, has lost his job as a Seventh-day Adventist minister because of his role in the same-sex wedding of his step-daughter. The event was more like a dinner for friends and Hadley has denied conducting a wedding, according to a report from Spectrum Magazine, the publication of the largest organization of Adventist academics. But another relative discovered that Hadley had signed the marriage license and contacted denominational officials seeking his dismissal.
What may be the first firing of an Adventist minister for participation in a same-sex wedding began with the marriage of Rande McDaniel and Britney Moss in Bellingham, Washington, on September 13 and 14. Rande Moss is the daughter of Hadley's wife. The event was designed to be different than a religious wedding and included a dinner for 40 to 50 relatives and friends with several individuals sharing anecdotes about the couple. They did not exchange vows and sign their wedding licenses until the next day at a different location.
Same-sex marriage is legal in Washington State and neither woman is an Adventist Church member. According to the Chesapeake Conference one of the reasons they decided to fire Hadley is that he "misrepresented his role when asked about it." The Spectrum article quotes his wife's blog and other relatives, and clearly conflict among the extended family over how to relate to same-sex marriage by non-Adventist relatives has played a role in the outcome.
Hadley graduated from the theology program at Southern Adventist University, then taught high school for eight years and spent three years as a youth pastor in California. He got involved in ministry with the deaf and earned a teaching endorsement in American Sign Language from American River College. In 1992 he formed the Adventist Christian Theatre group and for 11 years directed this highly successful drama ministry as well as working at various summer camps.
Known as a top expert on drama ministry with young people, Hadley has written four books and completed an MFA degree at the University of California Davis. He was senior pastor of the Mountain View Adventist Church in Las Vegas from 2006 to 2011 when he joined the faculty at Highland View Academy, the boarding academy operated by Chesapeake Conference. A significant number of parents and students are upset about Hadley's firing and feel that he was not treated fairly.
"The Chesapeake Conference [has] a commitment to uphold the fundamental tenants of the Seventh-day Adventist Church … which states that marriage, as created by God, is between a man and woman," said a conference news release. It also included the following: "We hold that all people, no matter what their sexual orientation, are children of God and loved by God. We do not condone singling out any group for scorn and derision, let alone abuse, but desire to treat all people with Christian love."
"It is difficult to maintain both of these positions," a retired pastor told Adventist Today, "especially when there are a number of members who have a very restricted view of how families, especially ministers and their families, are to respond in a situation such as this one. Some believe that it is really not appropriate to behave according to the last part of this statement despite the fact that it is from an official, General Conference document."