LINKEDINCOMMENTMORE

By Courtney Gousman

St. Clair, MO (KSDK) - The sexual orientation of a St. Clair, Missouri pastor is causing quite a stir in the town. In fact, it's caused some members of an adult Christian softball league to refuse to play with the minister's church softball team.

The minster of St. John United Church of Christ says he doesn't even play for the church softball team, but his team felt pressured to drop out of the league, because other churches didn't want to associate with them.

The sign outside St. John United Church of Christ says "All are welcome. No exceptions," and it's making a statement.

This is the first year of ministry for Rev. James Semmelroth Darnell. In October he became the pastor of St. John U.C.C.

"It's been a bit of a difficult transition," said Rev. Darnell.

Rev. Darnell says he's been very open about the fact that he's bisexual, and the pastor says his sexual orientation has even had a negative effect on his church's adult softball team.

"Recently we were told by the league that three of the teams no longer want to play with us because I as the pastor as a bisexual person," said Darnell.

Robin Juerges is just one of the John's Softball team members upset by the declaration.

"I was hurt by it," said Juerges

Rich Guinn is the team coach and says St. John has been a part of the St. Clair Church Softball League for more than 12 years. Guinn made the decision for his team to bow-out of the league since three of the league's six teams were refusing to play with the church.

"You can't have a league with three teams, so sacrifice us for the good of the league," said Guinn.

Johnny Dover is the Commissioner of the Softball League, as well as the pastor of Friendship Baptist Church, one of the teams that refused to play with Rev. Darnell's team.

"I guess you call it the stand they take. It's a Christian league. They felt that maybe what that church stood for wasn't in line with what they believe and so they chose not to play. We love them and we hope that that can be resolved with them if that's the case," said Dover.

"Now all of a sudden, we're not worthy to play. I'm disappointed in my town," said Juerges.

NewsChannel 5 spoke with some softball league members on both sides of the issue, but no one wanted to go on camera. St. John U.C.C. says they are working to create their own softball league.

Read or Share this story: http://on.ksdk.com/1b0C2Iw