Tuesday, November 19, 2013

Methodist Minister Convicted by Church Jury for Officiating Gay Son's Wedding // He's Told to Spend the Next 30 Days Re-Thinking His Pro-Gay-Son Views!

I grew up in the United Methodist Church, but left it for a more affirming worship space nearly two decades ago. But I still attend worship occasionally at my home church and I still follow UMC news from time to time. I have been following a sad story involving a Methodist minister who recently found himself in trouble with his denomination over a 2007 wedding ceremony involving his son and his new son-in-law.

Rev. Frank Schaefer of Lebanon, PA, almost got away with it. His son was getting married in Massachusetts in 2007 and asked his father to officiate at his gay wedding. Rev. Schaefer agreed and life went on. Then earlier this year -- one month short of the six-year statute of limitations for filing such complaints -- a member of his congregation formally complained about the wedding. I learned today that the congregant's mother used to be the church's organist, but she got fired for some unspecified reason shortly before the complaint was filed. This all led to a church trial and Rev. Schaefer is being accused of disobeying the Methodist Book of Discipline.

I understand that Rev. Schaefer was told that this trial could have been avoided had he agreed to stay away from future same-sex wedding ceremonies. He declined because three of his four kids are gay!

The sad trial went as expected. Rev. Schaefer was unapologetic about officiating at his son's wedding. He didn't make a big deal out of it because he wasn't seeking to become an activist. He was just officiating at his son's wedding.

The prosecutors (because apparently the United Methodist Church has prosecutors) was quite heavy handed. The UMC likes to brag about "Open Hands, Open Heart," but the church's lawyer told us what they really think of LGBT people:

Long story short, Rev. Schaefer was convicted of breaking church law because he officiated his son's wedding six years ago.

The sentencing phase of the trial was held today. The verdict was finally issued within the past hour. Rev. Schaefer was ordered by the church jury to be suspended from ministerial duties for the next 30 days. During those 30 days, he "must take time to prayerfully discern new calling to LGBT persons" and he must meet with the Board of Ordained Ministry. If after 30 days Rev. Schaefer cannot agree to follow the Methodist Book of Discipline 100% (including and especially staying away from potential same-sex weddings in the future), he will be stripped permanently of his ministerial orders.

1 comment:


Sigh . . . it's gonna be the Rev. Jimmy Creech trial all over again. If you never heard about it, Jon, Google Jimmy Creech for the whole sad story.