Pastor Argues ‘Right to Life’ to Demand Methodists Give Church to Congregants

Crescent Heights United Methodist
Crescent Heights United Methodist

Scott Imler, the minister who has loudly contested his denomination’s decision to close the Crescent Heights United Methodist church, has launched an online petition demanding that the historic property be given to its local congregation.

The church’s California – Pacific Conference voted last June to dissolve the congregation and is considering selling the church property, which sits at the corner of Fairfax Avenue and Fountain. It cited the small size of the congregation and its inability to sustain the property.

“They were not attracting people, they were not retaining people, not paying bills and the building was falling down around them,” church official Cedrick Bridgeforth said. ” It was not a sustainable congregation.”

Imler attacked church leaders at the time, claiming their decision was because of his active support of LGBT rights, a contention denomination leaders reject. Imler also was controversial because of his campaigning for legalizing marijuana sales. In fact, he acknowledges that he grows marijuana for his own use on the church property. He became pastor in 2005, taking over a congregation of only 20 to 30 worshippers, which showed little growth after that.

The church, founded in 1914, in recent decades became known for its support of the LGBT community, as the initial home for groups such as Project Angel Food, which provides meals for AIDS patients, and the EAGLES Program, the LA Unified School District’s alternative LGBT high school, and for hosting various addiction recovery support groups.

“It is regrettable that after 98 years of faithful ministry at the corner of Fountain and Fairfax Avenues that the UMC finds no redeeming value to our fellowship and ministry,” Imler writes in his petition. “But if they want us out of the increasingly and systemically hateful denomination, so be it. Their ‘Book of Discipline’ isn’t near as fun as it sounds anyway.”


Borrowing an argument from abortion opponents and conservative Republicans, Imler contends that as a non-profit religious corporation, the church “enjoys all the rights of a natural person, among which necessarily includes a ‘right to life; despite its subordinate relationship to the ‘mother church’. State law also vests in the local congregation the sole authority to dissolve the corporation and dispose of the corporate assets. After all, there are a lot of parents who don’t like the way their kids turn out, but that doesn’t give them the right to kill them to reap an early inheritance of their off-spring’s property…”

The petition, which as of Thursday morning (Jan. 24) had garnered nine signatures, needs an additional 499,991 to be submitted under rules. It can be found online here.

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