Schaefer Jury: 30 day suspension and possible surrender

UMR photo by Erik Alsgaard

UMR photo by Erik Alsgaard

SPRING CITY, Pa. — The jury in the trial of the Rev. Frank Schaefer has ordered that Schaefer be suspended immediately from the practice of ministry for 30 days, during which time he must decide whether he is willing to comply with the United Methodist Book of Discipline “in it’s entirety” or surrender his ministerial credentials.

The jury, which had found Schaefer guilty yesterday of performing a same-sex wedding (for his son Tim) and disobedience to the order and discipline of the United Methodist Church, said that if Schaefer violates the provisions of the Book of Discipline during that 30 day period, he will immediately be asked to surrender his ministerial credentials. During the 30 day period Schaefer is to engage in reflection about his calling to the GLBTQ community. If he determines at the end of that period that he cannot uphold the Book of Discipline in whole, he is to turn in his credentials, thus removing himself from the pastoral office.

Following a sidebar conversation between presiding Bishop Alfred Gwinn and the parties in the trial, Gwinn asked the jury how they intended for the verdict to be implemented. The jury stated that Schaefer’s district superintendent, the Rev. James Todd, will be responsible for supervising the implementation of the verdict. At the end of the 30 day period, Schaefer is to meet with the Eastern Pennsylvania Annual Conference Board of Ordained Ministry to report on the results of his period of discernment.

The counsel for the church, the Rev. Christopher Fisher, said that he believed the penalty to be “gracious,” for it put the responsibility of determining the outcome ultimately upon Schaefer.

The responses on Twitter from supporters of Schaefer were generally less gracious, suggesting that the jury had failed to decisive in their verdict. Love Prevails UMC, a group advocating for full participation of GLBTQ persons in the life of the church tweeted: “The jury did not have the integrity to kick Frank Schaefer out. They’re making him decide himself.”

Schaefer said earlier in the day that he could not say that he he could be obedient to the UM Book of Discipline. “I feel called to minister to everybody,” he said. “This experience has transformed me. I am now an advocate, a spokesperson for a cause.”

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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37 Comments on "Schaefer Jury: 30 day suspension and possible surrender"

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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John Light

Frank should join the Unitarian Church as you can believe whatever you want to believe——– forget what the bible says about same sex relationships—- his son’s marriage to another male is meaningless, according to scripture———oh, wait, we don’t have to follow scripture, as we are above that.


I pray that rather than a new denomination arising that all Christians will be able to unite under the mission of creating one family under God. Aju


speaking of judging….wow.


Congratulations on whomever brought attention to this tool of Satan, "Rev." Schaefer, who thinks he knows human hearts better than his Creator. His son's desire to be in a lustful relationship with another man deserved the Reverend's godly rebuke, not solemnization as a "marriage."

UMC having outreached to the LGBT community for so long, clearly now shows that LGBT people, have NO PLACE within the UMC. That outreach, is a lie. It is an hypocrisy of the highest order. A man officiates his own sons wedding and this is how he is treated. Not with compassion. Not with empathy. Not with understanding. Most certainly not with the love of Jesus. Rev. Schaefer is instead threatened, bullied, coerced into towing the line or leave – all for consecrating committment of love between two children of G-d. The UMC should be ashamed. No LGBT person should… Read more »

umc has not became anything, they have always been the same way, they have rules and stick with them if you dont agree then move on, Simple

Claire Cardwell

I grew up Methodist and my mom was a Methodist minister. I have so many found memories, many loving educational experiences and realize my points of view come from my faith upbringing but can no longer support the Methodist because of their stance on not loving all people.

John C.

From a layman's perspective and that of a life long United Methodist, the UMC might as well take down its shingle that it is a caring church for all people. Clearly, gays and lesbians are second class in the sight of the UMC hierarchy. Makes me almost ashamed to admit I am a methodist.

Mike O'Toole
David, You are right, we are not hear to judge, but we have been charged and expected to discern good from evil, and I do believe the Holy Bible is clear on the actions of the homosexual lifestyle. I think the word "abomination" is very clear. Does that mean one cannot change? NO, but it does teach me that I am not to condone it. Therein lies the issue, God will not condone sin in any form, Christ came to try to get us to change and be saved, God will judge in the end. I choose not to condone,… Read more »
David Jenkins

Very well said and I agree! The witness of Scripture is clear against the practice of homosexuality, and very clear about the saving power of God's grace through the blood of Jesus from all sin! The language in our Book of Discipline concerning homosexuality is faithful to the Biblical historic faith, clear and affiirming of the work of God's grace, and appropriately definitive of acceptable ministry responses by UM clergy and churches. Rev. Schaefer has broken that faith and trust.

Rev. Dave Jenkins


Very tempting.

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