James Semmelroth, Bisexual Pastor, Divides Church Softball League

Reverend James Semmelroth Darnell has been a pastor at St. John United Church since October and is openly bisexual, a fact that caused his church pull out of the St. Clair Church Softball League after other teams refused to play against them.

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

Reverend Ben Kingston, a pastor at Bethel Baptist Church, was one of the three pastors who refused to play against St. John United.

"We believe that God's word speaks clearly about boundaries, and that lifestyle is outside of those boundaries," Pastor Kingston said in an interview with STL Today. "We call ourselves a Christian softball league, and if we call ourselves that, we want to be that."

Darnell's church has been part of the league for 12 years and even had a lesbian player on their team.

"We have an openly lesbian player, too, and that's never been an issue," Darnell told STL Today.

Team coach, Rich Guinn, told KSDK that even though St. John has been part of the league for 12 years they thought pulling out was the better option. "You can't have a league with three teams, so sacrifice us for the good of the league."

The Republic reported that St. John is now working on forming it's own league by reaching out to other area churches.

"The reason I've been willing to go public with this is it needs to go challenged," Darnell told the Republic. "Otherwise folks think it's all right to do this sort of thing and get away with this sort of exclusion."