Saturday, December 21, 2013

Methodist Minister Defrocked After Getting in Trouble for Officiating at his Gay Son's Wedding

Last month, United Methodist Church minister Rev. Frank Schaefer was convicted by a church jury for officiating at the wedding of his oldest gay son. The private wedding took place in 2007 in another state, but a complaint was filed by a member of his church weeks before the six-year statute of limitation for filing such complaints. Rev. Schaefer hadn't made a big deal out of the wedding, but it wasn't a secret either. Since he refused to promise to avoid same-sex wedding in the future (three of his four children are gay), a church trial was held and Rev. Schaefer was convicted of disobeying the Methodist Book of Discipline.

Following his conviction, Rev. Schaefer was suspended from ministerial duties for 30 days. During those 30 days, he was to "take time to prayerfully discern new calling to LGBT persons" and he was to meet with the Board of Ordained Ministry. He was told that he would be permanently stripped of his ministerial orders if after 30 days he decided that he could not follow the Methodist Book of Discipline 100%.

Rev. Frank Schaefer was formally defrocked by United Methodist Church officials on Thursday, December 19, 2013, because he officiated at the wedding of his eldest son:
In an interview afterward, Mr. Schaefer said that as he got into the car to go home, his wife noticed he was shaking. “For 20 years, I’ve served this church, and it has now put me outside,” he said. “I find myself totally shunned, excluded. It just felt awful.”
He said he would not consider leaving the Methodist Church for a denomination that has changed its teaching on homosexuality.
“It’s not that easy when a church is your spiritual home,” he said. “All my children have been baptized in the United Methodist Church. I don’t know how to be a minister out of the United Methodist Church.”
It sounds like Rev. Schaefer is gonna have to learn because I don't see the UMC changing its decision anytime soon, despite his appeal of the decision.




I have a mix of feelings about this. The church's position is dead wrong! Scripture doesn't forbid marriage between men, it just affirms marriage between men and women. They are reading things into the Gospels that aren't there, and if they are also trying to apply Levitican codes to Christians, they are doubly wrong. Christians have never followed those Old Testament laws.

But I must say, this result was not unexpected. When you perform civil disobedience, you have to be prepared for negative consequences, no matter how just your cause is. And I question the sensitivity of the son, who I hear requested that his father marry him and his partner. Did he not realize that his Dad would get in trouble? Couldn't he have gotten another minister to perform the ceremony? Shame on him if he was only thinking about his own happiness!

Jon said...

My understanding was that the son would've asked another pastor to marry him if his father wouldn't do it. I don't think his son understood the consequences of his request.

This hadn't been an act of civil disobedience. It was a private ceremony in another state. It sounds like the organist got fired and her son, a member of the church, found out about the ceremony and filed a complaint at the minute.

It's just sad he had to chose between his son and his denomination. I visited with a Methodist minister about this case earlier today. His thought? "Of course, you choose your son."


In the two decades since Rev. Jimmy Creech was fired by the UMC for doing the same thing, it seems little has changed. This is what happens when people learn Scripture without taking any substance away from it. You just can't underestimate the importance of reading comprehension!!!

Jon said...

Don: I accidentally deleted the following comment, but I'll cut and paste it from my email notification. Sorry about that!!


Good news for Rev. Schaefer: