Good News releases statement on Schafer trial verdict

GoodNews_sqGood News, an independent group of United Methodists focused on promoting “traditional Wesleyan orthodoxy,” released a statement tonight in response to the verdict and penalty issued to the Rev. Frank Schaefer in his trial ending today.

“Although eminently appropriate,” the statement said,  “this penalty marks a sad moment in our church’s life. No one enjoys the difficult process of holding a colleague accountable. However, without such clear and firm accountability, our clergy covenant and our churchwide connection is in grave danger. Indeed, because of the recent spate of violators performing same-sex weddings, our church’s unity and trust are beginning to crumble.”

The Rev. Thomas A. Lambrecht, the Executive Director and Vice President of Good News, was a consultant to the counsel for the church, the Rev. Christoper Fisher, throughout the trial.

The full text of the Good News statement is included below:

Good News welcomes the verdict and penalty issued to the Rev. Frank Schaefer in a trial concluded November 19, 2013, for performing the same-sex wedding of his son in violation of the order and discipline of The United Methodist Church. Found guilty of performing the prohibited ceremony and of disobedience to the order and discipline of the church, the Rev. Schaefer was unapologetic. “I cannot go back to being a silent supporter, I am an advocate,” he stated during testimony regarding a potential penalty. “I must continue to speak for my LGBT brothers and sisters. I cannot repent [for performing the same-sex service]. I cannot make the statement that I will not do any more services.”

The trial court consisting of 13 ordained clergy of the Eastern Pennsylvania Annual Conference took Schaefer’s testimony to heart in their penalty. He will be suspended for 30 days, effective immediately. During that time, any violation of the Book of Discipline will result in immediate surrender of credentials to the annual conference. During the 30-day suspension, the Rev. Schaefer will be asked to discern his newly found calling to the LGBT community. If by the end of the 30 days he feels he cannot uphold the Book of Discipline in its entirety, he must surrender his credentials. The presiding officer interpreted this to mean that the Rev. Schaefer must commit to doing no more same-sex services in order to maintain his credentials.

This verdict and penalty demonstrate the seriousness of the Rev. Schaefer’s breach of the clergy covenant. It gives him a grace period in which to reconsider and potentially repent of his actions and intentions to violate the provisions of the Discipline. The verdict and penalty decisively held the Rev. Schaefer accountable, while also demonstrating grace. The penalty reflects the fact that the Rev. Schaefer had moved from performing a loving service for his son to declaring his willingness to continue violating the Discipline. 

Although eminently appropriate, this penalty marks a sad moment in our church’s life. No one enjoys the difficult process of holding a colleague accountable. However, without such clear and firm accountability, our clergy covenant and our churchwide connection is in grave danger. Indeed, because of the recent spate of violators performing same-sex weddings, our church’s unity and trust are beginning to crumble.

The Eastern Pennsylvania trial court is to be commended for their clarity of thought and decisiveness of action. The outcome of this trial sets a good example for other trials to come, and encourages our clergy to reconsider their avowed intent to break the Discipline in the process of breaking apart our church.

UMReporter Staff

This story was posted by a staff member of The United Methodist Reporter. For over 160 years The United Methodist Reporter has been helping the people called Methodist to tell their stories. If you have stories that you think need to be told, please let us know at editor@circuitwritermedia.com

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16 Comments on "Good News releases statement on Schafer trial verdict"

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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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Ben Cathey
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A fair and accurate statement that acknowledges the human pain involved in the situation.

james
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Did Jesus really mean what He said when He told the woman caught in the act of adultry? "We" try so hard to legitimize the stances "we" take in the modern church. At least one approved seminary of the umc believes/teaches a progressive gospel. If that teaching is accurate–then "we" no longer need a Savior who suffered and dies and was buried and was ressurected so that "we"—all who accept and believe THIS "Good News" can be reconciled back to the Father. If the Good News "progresses and evolves" those who call themselves "christian" no longer need a Risen Savior."… Read more »
DuaneC
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John Wesley put his reputation on the line visiting a condemned homosexual in prison for the "crime" of his gender orientation back in his own day. Wesley celebrated God's book of revelation in nature and science. He Understood the Bible as an historical record but that was before the knowledge of the limits of its historicity was known. But, he did know and celebrated God's revelation in nature and science and human experience. At one point, in a debate about free grace, he even commented that IF scripture did teach Calvinist doctrine, then he would have no choice but to… Read more »
Wes Andrews
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Jay, the hypocrites can be found everywhere, including the Reconciling folk.

Bruce
Guest

I have always believed that "Good News" was such an odd name for a group devoted to spreading bigotry, hate and contempt for the UMC. Still do.

james
Guest

You are correct, Jay. Father/Son/Holy Spirit will prevail. Stay the course Good News…………

james
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You are correct, Jay. Father/Son/Holy Spirit will prevail. The Trinity–as well as John Wesley–grieve at what is going on in the Church. Stay the course, Good New………………

Ricardo
Guest

The UMC is declining in membership and has already lost respect. There is nothing United about Methodism. Blacks are terrible people and must be separated from the whites. Oh, that was year's ago. The gay's are terrible people and must be weeded out of congregations. There we go.

Jay
Guest

Hypocrites. People like "Good News" (what an ironic name for a group intent on violating the spirit of the Gospel) are destroying the denomination. But God's spirit will work on in the heart of people like Rev. Schaefer.

Jeffry
Guest

These people should be ashamed of themselves for the way they have treated those of us who are gay and lesbian. Apparently they never got the message that Christ was always on the side of those who have been oppressed and marginalized in the world.

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