UMC Rev. Frank Schafer’s Final Hearing Tomorrow
Keep Reverend Frank Schafer, the United Methodist Church, LGBTQA clergy and laity, and the members of the Judicial Council in your prayers as this important hearing goes forward tomorrow in Memphis. The hearing will determine whether Rev. Schafer is able to keep his credentials as an ordained minister in the United Methodist Church after officiating at the marriage of his son and his son’s partner. The outcome may also have ramifications regarding the future of the “United” Methodist Church.
The Judicial Council of The United Methodist Church will conduct an Oral Hearing in the case of the Rev. Frank Schaefer at 11 a.m. on Wednesday, Oct. 22, at the Doubletree Hotel at 185 Union Avenue in downtown Memphis, Tenn., according to a media release from the Judicial Council.
The Judicial Council is the highest judicial body or “court” of The United Methodist Church. The Judicial Council determines whether the actions of the denomination’s official bodies conform to church law, either on appeal of lower rulings or through requests for declaratory decisions. The nine-member council is elected by the General Conference, the denomination’s legislative body. Decisions of the Judicial Council are final.
The Rev. Christopher Fisher, who served as counsel for the Eastern Pennsylvania Conference in a church trial against Schaefer in November 2013, appealed the decision of the Northeastern Jurisdiction Committee on Appeals to overturn the trial court decision and reinstate Schaefer’s ministerial credentials at a hearing in June 2014.
Schaefer, former pastor of Zion United Methodist Church of Iona in Lebanon, Pa., was charged under United Methodist church law for having officiated at the same-sex marriage of his son in 2007. A trial court made up of 13 ordained United Methodist clergy from the Eastern Pennsylvania Conference found Rev. Schaefer guilty of the charge of conducting a ceremony that celebrates homosexual unions and a majority also found Rev. Schaefer guilty of disobedience to the order and the Discipline of The United Methodist Church. The trial court ordered a 30-day suspension for Rev. Schaefer and provided that he surrender his credentials at the end of that period if he determined that he could not uphold the Discipline in its entirety.
On Dec. 19, 2013, Rev. Schaefer met with the Eastern Pennsylvania Board of Ordained Ministry, at which time he was stripped of his ministerial credentials. Schaefer appealed that decision to the Northeastern Jurisdiction Committee on Appeals, which found the penalty fashioned by the trial court to be unlawful.
The Judicial Council ‘s Oral Hearing will be open to the public; however, the committee’s deliberations following the hearing will be closed. Individual Judicial Council members will not be available for interviews and will not issue statements. A decision is not expected to be announced until several days after the full meeting concludes on Oct. 25.”
Update from October 27, 2014
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