End of trial prompts varied reactions from participants

The Rev. Michele Bartlow, spokesperson for the Eastern PA Annual Conference and the Rev. Christopher Fisher, counsel for the church, address the press following the trial  UMR photo by Erik Alsgaard

The Rev. Michele Bartlow, spokesperson for the Eastern PA Annual Conference and the Rev. Christopher Fisher, counsel for the church, address the press following the trial.
UMR photo by Erik Alsgaard

SPRING CITY, Pa. — The verdict has been proclaimed and the penalty has been issued. The trial of the Rev. Frank Schaefer is over, and the participants reflected on the events of the past two days at a post-trial news conference.

The counsel of the church, the Rev. Christopher Fisher, stated that he believed the punishment given Schaefer had been gracious, for it allowed Schaefer the responsibility for determining his own fate. “He [Schaefer] has 30 days to consider whether he will remain in The United Methodist Church and whether he will uphold the entire Discipline, including the restrictions on ministerial conduct,” Fisher said. “He gets to chose whether he can live within the covenant The United Methodist Church has for its clergy.”

When asked if he approved of the penalty, Fisher he replied, “It’s not for me to offer an opinion on that. They did their work.”

The Rev. Frank SchaeferUMR photo by Erik Alsgaard

The Rev. Frank Schaefer
UMR photo by Erik Alsgaard

“I’m grateful that I’m still Reverend Frank Schafer,” Schaefer said, while pointing to his name badge with his full name and title.

“It [Schaefer’s title] is still there,” he noted. “When I addressed the jury tonight, I gave them every excuse in the book to defrock me immediately. But that did not happen. Now, I’m still wondering what that means, the conditions they’ve set. But I told them clearly that I could no longer be a silent supporter, but now I feel I have to be an advocate, an outspoken advocate for all lesbian, gay, transgender and bi-sexual people.”

When asked about the biblical prohibitions on homosexual activity the book of Leviticus in the Old Testament, Schaefer reminded the audience that there are many different laws in Leviticus which are no longer observed. “Why does everyone hone in on that law?” Schaefer asked.

Schaefer was asked what it will mean to him and the church if he is kicked out.

“I do love the church,” he said, “so it would be tremendous loss. I think, what it means, is that it could have been different; there was a path that could have lead to healing. There is a diversity of opinion in The United Methodist Church, and that was not acknowledged tonight in this room.”

When asked about what he would say to his son tonight, Schaefer said that he thought his son would be proud of him, for standing up for him and for everybody who is gay, everybody who is lesbian, everybody who is transgender and bi-sexual.

“I did this for him, Schaefer said. “I did this for my other children. But mainly, I did this for the LGBT community as well.”

Schaefer acknowledged that it was likely that he will be forced to surrender his ministerial credentials at the end of the 30 day period.

“I told them [the jury] that I would not refuse ministry to anybody regardless of gender, race, nationality, socio-economic status, or sexual orientation,” he said. “They came back and didn’t defrock me. They gave me 30 days, basically, to change my mind. That’s how I see it right now. I’m here to tell you that I will not change my mind. What I said tonight is the truth and the full truth, and so we’ll see how the church is going to deal with it in 30 days.”

Erik Alsgaard, UMR Correspondent

Erik Alsgaard

UMR Correspondent The Rev. Erik Alsgaard is a member of the Detroit Conference, on loan to the Baltimore-Washington Conference, serving in the Ministry of Communications there as Editor of the UMConnection newspaper.

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15 Comments on "End of trial prompts varied reactions from participants"

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The United Methodist Reporter wants to encourage lively conversation about The United Methodist Church and our articles in the belief that Christian conversation (what Wesley would call conferencing) is a means of grace. While we support passionate debate, we cannot allow language that demeans or demonizes others, and we reserve the right to delete any comment we believe to be harmful or inappropriate. We encourage all to remember that we are all broken and in need of Christ's grace, and that we all see through the glass darkly until that time we when reach full perfection in love. May your speech here be tempered with love, and reflection of the fruits of love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control. After all, "There is no law against things like this." (Galatians 5:22-23)
 
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Sandy Wylie
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God bless Pastor Schaefer. He deserves our support. He’s on the right side of history and the right side of the gospel. That should matter to all of us more than anything else.

Carol Watkins
Guest

Why has the UMC Reporter said much about Jon Boger and the suspicious timeframe before he reported Pastor Shaefer? Mr. Boger lives in another state and only occasionally visits the church. He filed the report shortly after his mother, the church music director had a falling out with Shaefer and was fired. There have been a number of UMC ministers who have officiated at gay marriages but they have not been reported or disciplined.

Check the local Lancaster newspapers to read about Boger.

Jay
Guest

The UMC bod violates Jesus's clear and certain statement about laws. Love God and love your neighbor.

Dave Williams
Guest

Our God loves us all like a father to his children. But would a good parent allow his children to continue acting out wrongly, or would he reprimand them; but still loving them unconditionally? Think about it, then think about what was just tried here. The church is abiding by God's laws and out of love giving Rev Shaefer a second chance. It is the rebellious child that will turn away from a chance for forgiveness.

john C.
Guest

I say Amen to Ellen Cecil's comment.

John Palmer
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how 'bout that weather we're having?!

Jay
Guest

People who enforce unjust laws are not people of principle, theenemyhatesclarity.

Thomas Mc
Guest

If your "god" wants you to be a hateful bigot, then you are worshiping the Devil.

Jay
Guest

What a disgraceful kangaroo court we have seen, more reminiscent of Stalin show trials than anything else. But throughout Rev. Schaefer has been a man of principle. He is an inspiration. May God bless him.

Adrienne
Guest

Romans 1: 18 – 32 God says it all here, not me…..

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