Tag Archive | United Methodist Church

UMC Rev. Frank Schafer’s Final Hearing Tomorrow

Gay Marriage Methodists

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.”

 – http://www.memphis-umc.net/newsdetail/442138


Update from October 27, 2014

Methodist Panel Upholds Reinstatement Of Pastor Who Presided Over Son’s Same-Sex Wedding

A Letter to Bishop Watson

(“Benjamin Michael Watson has been the resident bishop of The United Methodist Church’s  North Georgia Episcopal Area since 2008. The North Georgia Conference has over 362,000 members, 950 congregations, and 1,400 clergy.”)

November 25, 2013

Bishop Michael Watson
Office of the Bishop
North Georgia Conference
United Methodist Center
4511 Jones Bridge Circle,
Norcross, GA 30092

Dear Bishop Watson:

I’m a 45-year-old, straight woman; a proud, lifetime United Methodist and currently a member at St. Mark United Methodist Church. I was so pleased and honored when you worshiped with us earlier this year. It was wonderful to meet you! I know it required courage to join us, uncertain of the reception you may have received from our diverse congregation.

I write to you today to ask you to look forward bravely and stand with us again in that place of courage! For the time has come for the United Methodist Church to grant full equality and inclusion to our gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender brothers and sisters.

In college, I worked five summers with developmentally disabled adults and children at Camp Sparrowwood at Camp Glisson. No one in the United Methodist Church would’ve dared to say that those disabled campers shouldn’t be fully included in the church because of the way they were born. In fact, many thought we at camp were doing super-special, doubly-blessed Jesus work just because we were working towards greater inclusion for that community.

But, as you learn with experience, there is nothing special about those campers. The way they are born doesn’t make them closer to or farther from God or sweet or good natured or even particularly slow. They are unique individuals with their own personalities and issues and lives, just like you and me.

Likewise, there is nothing special or different about me, or about my LGBT family at St. Mark. We are, each of us, created just as we are in God’s image without mistake or error. We are all men and women with God’s spark of divinity inside, and each of us is saved not by our worthiness or our works, but purely by God’s grace.

These LGBT friends are the same men and women of God who welcomed me and created a place for me at St. Mark. These are the same men and women of God who prayed for me, cared for me and loved me this summer while I was in a deep, dark depression. (And, yes, also excessive misery. WHOA!) These are the same men and women of God who have created a United Methodist Church where I have discovered that I am OK, that I am lovable and acceptable and that I have gifts and blessings to give back to the world.

If these men and women can minister to me in such a powerful and life-changing way, why should we not allow them all rights and privileges in the United Methodist Church to do so in an official capacity? Why should we deny these men and women anything that I am afforded in the United Methodist Church just because I am “lucky enough” to be born straight? We are asking not for special rights, but for equal rights, for the simple dignity of human rights.

So I’m asking you today to stand with us to make the United Methodist Church what it could be. Let us be the United Methodist Church of grace and mercy, not the church that split over the “question” of slavery. Let us be the United Methodist Church of justice and equality, not the church that needed to apologize for its treatment of indigenous peoples at its last General Conference. Let us be the United Methodist Church of love and acceptance, not the church where a Sunday School teacher told my mother her premature baby died because of my mother’s sin.

Let us be courageous and visionary. Let us be welcoming and affirming. Let us be just and full of grace. God has created us all equally and infallibly in His image and redeemed us through His mercy. Let us understand that all God asks from each of us in return is to love Him with all our hearts and minds, and to love our neighbor just the way we’d want him or her to love us.

Let us have nothing to apologize for in the future, to any of our brothers and sisters, or to our God.

Let us be one in Jesus Christ.


A Long Run