Three recreational softball teams from a St. Clair, Mo., league have refused to play against a team because its pastor -- who isn't even on the team -- is bisexual. The team from St. John United Church of Christ dropped out rather than see the league canceled.
* Rev. James Semmelroth Darnell, 27, told the St. Louis Post-Dispatch, "It's frustrating because this is who is representing Christianity in our community, and this is the message youths in our community are getting."
* Two weeks ago, Rev. Johnny Dover, the league's commissioner, heard rumors Darnell was bisexual. He personally called the openly bisexual pastor to ask him if it was true. The news came before the league started play this year.
* Dover and two other pastors decided their church teams would no longer compete against the one from St. John United Church of Christ. The reason is that they feel it is a "Christian softball league." The protesting churches didn't want to play against a church that deliberately called a bisexual man to be its leader.
* KSDK states members of the team came to Darnell's defense. Head coach Rich Guinn told the television station St. John United Church of Christ has been in the recreational league for 12 years. Guinn made the decision to pull the team from the league altogether. He asserted the league would falter with just three teams in it.
* Dover and another pastor in the league, Rev. Ben Kingston, have never met Darnell in person. The team had a lesbian playing in the league and it was never an issue with any of the other teams.
* The Associated Press reports Kingston said, "We are not against people. We are against sin. That's what we stand against."
* Darnell also told the AP, "The reason I've been willing to go public with this is it needs to go challenged. Otherwise folks think it's all right to do this sort of thing...."
* St. Clair is a town of 5,000 residents 45 miles southwest of St. Louis. St. John United Church of Christ has around 130 members.
* Darnell has been at the church since October 2011. St. John United Church of Christ is his first ministerial assignment as a full pastor. Darnell graduated with a Masters in Divinity from Wesley Theological Seminary in Washington, D.C. in 2011.
William Browning, a lifelong Missouri resident, writes about local and state issues for the Yahoo! Contributor Network. Born in St. Louis, Browning earned his bachelor's degree in English from the University of Missouri. He currently resides in Branson.