PRESS RELEASE: Schaefer Defrocked, UMC Inflicts More Pain on LGBTQ Members

Thursday, December 19th, 2013 3:32 pm

WASHINGTON, DC – December 19, 2013 – Thirty days following the penalty handed down by a trial court in the Eastern Pennsylvania (regional) Conference of The United Methodist Church, Rev. Frank Schaefer has been defrocked by the Board of Ordained Ministry of that same Conference. Schaefer was found guilty in a church trial this past November of celebrating the wedding of his son, Tim, and another man more than five years ago. Schafer was instructed to report if he would uphold church doctrine and not officiate at future same-gender unions. In a press conference on Tuesday, Schaefer made clear his intention to continue his ministry and not voluntarily surrender his clergy credentials.

“Today is a sad day in the life of The United Methodist Church,” states Chett Pritchett, executive director of the Methodist Federation for Social Action (MFSA). “In these Advent days, we hear about God’s love made incarnate and God delighting in justice and joy, yet in stark contrast The United Methodist Church continues to say to lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and queer (LGBTQ) people and those who are in ministry with them that injustice rules the day.”

Beginning in 1972, the United Methodist Book of Discipline has included discriminatory language against gay and lesbian persons. Discrimination was further codified with an ordination ban in 1984 and a union/marriage ban in 1996. For over 40 years, MFSA has worked with a growing coalition of organizations seeking to overturn such discriminatory policies and work for justice within The United Methodist Church.

“This action by both the trial court and the Board of Ordained Ministry is indicative of the deep pain caused by the discriminatory language in our Book of Discipline, the homophobia and heterosexism that is pervasive in our Church, and the inability of church leaders to lead from their hearts and embrace the fullness of Christ’s charge to ‘love one another,’” Pritchett states. “True leadership requires willingness to be vulnerable and seek a way forward that encourages vital ministry with those who find themselves on the margins of the Church without engaging in acts of retribution. Church trials accomplish nothing but perpetuation of pain inflicted on LGBTQ people and those who minister with them. It’s time to stop the trials!”

Since 1907, the Methodist Federation for Social Action has worked to mobilize, lead, and sustain a progressive movement, energizing people to be agents of God’s justice, peace, and reconciliation. As an independent, faith-based organization, MFSA leads both Church and society on issues of peace, poverty, people’s rights, progressive issues, and justice within The United Methodist Church.

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3 Responses to “PRESS RELEASE: Schaefer Defrocked, UMC Inflicts More Pain on LGBTQ Members”

  1. Rev. Thomas L. Shanklin Says:

    Unfortunately, these trials singling out clergy only relating to GLBT issues is nothing but a witch hunt.  As a Conference Secretary for 18 years I was pirvy to numerous violations of the discipline by both laity and clergy.  None were ever brought up on trial for such things as maladminstration, mis management and abuse of members, financial irresponsbiility, interferring in the ministry of another clergy by return to former parishes to do weddings, funerals, baptisms, refusing the sacrament of baptism to strangers, etc etc. etc.  This is nothing but a witch hunt.  Call it for what it is.  Laity and Clergy AND bishops are all guilty of numerous violations of the Book of Discipline.  Hold one accountable, hold ALL accountable or change the rules.

  2. Faithnxs Says:

    This is absolutely heartbreaking. Debating a social construct such as civil rights in the church is wrong and it is tearing the church apart. But the leaders of this movement do not apparently care about this. It seems their beliefs and their desires to continue to sin against God without rebuke while they persecute the rest of us for ours is more important than the sovereignty of Almighty God. Yes, why should the inspired word of God take precedence over the personal desires of the gay community and their indirect affect of diluting the work of the Church? This is exactly what is happening because the secular world has a louder voice than the Church. "Discrimination!" A word that sends everyone scurrying for cover or back peddling their beliefs into obscurity. It has been our own undoing-the sins of our forefathers, and some of us still, have given rise to the power of secular belief in the ultimate superiority of our personal desires. We heterosexuals, those who suffer through the desires of the flesh and are rebuked by the word of God, are of no consequence when it comes to our rebuke of the gay community because that, of course, is discrimination. Those whom are advocates of allowing openly defiant sinful behavior into the leadership of the church use the precious name of Jesus Christ as their ally in sin. Because of His love and his directive, above all, to love one another, they pit Him against the Father by suggesting His Word is fallible; that because of Jesus, God's moral laws are no longer in effect and that it is the personal choice of Man's desires that rule over the Church. Sadly, some in the leadership of the church succumb to the pressures of society and many of us are forced to watch them shrink into irrelevance. To rebuke one another is the calling of God and there is great love in doing so because the alternative is eternal damnation. If you are unrepentant and in defiance of God's word, you will not see the kingdom of Heaven. Look it up. Shame on you who uses the merciful gift of salvation through the crucifixion of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ in your personal quest to obtain legitimacy as a sinner. Shame on us who do not love and embrace other sinners while we morally elevate ourselves above them too! Shame on you who adorn yourselves in the robes of clergy when you are more afraid of people than you are of God. God bless and help us all.

  3. Mike Says:

    The book of discipline is clear on this point.  If a charge is brought forward the verdict is predetermined.  Just like the old covenant the law is cold but easy to interpret.  If you want a different outcome you need to change the book of discipline.  My general focus is on what does God want from us.  People from either side tell me that there side is correct but neither side provides much In the way of evidence, they simply state what they think.  Your opinions are interesting but they do not provide information / data to convince me that yr opinion is what God wants from us.

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