Reconciling Ministries Network responds to Schaefer trial

rmnThe Executive Director of the Reconciling Ministries Network issued a statement early this morning on the network’s suggesting that the Rev. Frank Schaefer, the United Methodist pastor found guilty this week of presiding at the wedding of his gay son was an inspiring force in the efforts to make the UMC more inclusive to GLBTQ persons.

Repeatedly noting that “the whole world is watching,” Berryman wrote:

“The whole world is watching,” said Rev. Bob Coombe, counsel for the Rev. Frank Schaefer. Indeed the world is watching and will continue to watch as The United Methodist Church continues to steamroll right over its faithful lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and queer (LGBTQ) persons.

After hearing a range of perspectives from testifying witnesses, the trial court, composed of clergy members from the Eastern Pennsylvania Conference, found Rev. Schaefer guilty of celebrating his son Tim’s same-sex wedding over six years ago. Among the witnesses was Rev. Schaefer himself, who humbly declared that he will now take up the mantle of advocate, prophet, and truth-teller on behalf of LGBTQ persons. In an awe-inspiring moment, Schaefer declared that he will not treat the LGBTQ members of the body of Christ as “second-class Christians.” Following the verdict, the trial court suspended Rev. Schaefer from his pastoral duties for 30 days while also requiring him to report to his Board of Ordained Ministry as to whether or not he will be able to uphold the Book of Discipline in its entirety. If, at the conclusion of his 30 day suspension, Rev. Schaefer does not agree to uphold the Book of Discipline in its entirety, the penalty stipulates that he must surrender his orders.

The whole world was watching as many of us who gathered at Camp Innabah to support Rev. Schaefer and his family sang our protest right alongside our praise. Remembering all those LGBTQ saints who have endured suffering and death at the hands of the church’s ongoing sin and oppression, this hymn filled that old gymnasium-turned-church courtroom:  “were you there when they crucified my Lord?”  The whole world was watching…and listening. Finally, it was Rev. Schaefer alongside the Rev. Steve Heiss who celebrated the Eucharist of Christ’s death and resurrection.

The whole world was watching as the body of Christ was broken yet again for a broken church, a broken world, and the broken bodies of lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and queer persons. As I watched person after person receive the sacrament of the crucified and risen Christ, I realized that no matter what the church says or does, no matter how many times the church crucifies the bodies and spirits of LGBTQ persons, we are the body of Christ, each one, member for member, and therefore carry within us our own resurrection. It was our own mystery that was placed on the table, our own death and resurrection as well as the death and resurrection of Jesus—present in the body. And it was Rev. Schaefer: father, pastor, prophet, and now…advocate who, in great humility and love, served us all, including Bishop Gwinn and other officials. Together, we received each others’ mystery—the crucified and resurrected body. “If one part of the body suffers, all the other parts share its suffering.”

The whole world was watching, indeed is still watching. As we remember the broken body of Christ, the broken body of the church, and the broken bodies of all the marginalized, oppressed, and afflicted, we particularly call to mind our transgender family members as we observe Transgender Day of Remembrance, an occasion for re-membering the transgender saints whose bodies bear the wounds of oppression and violence.

Inspired by Rev. Schaefer, may we find new ways as pastors, prophets, advocates, and friends to affirm and embrace our transgender family members and one another.

The Reconciling Ministries Network is an independent group of United Methodists working for the full inclusion of GLBTQ persons in the life of the 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

Facebook Twitter 

Leave a Reply

9 Comments on "Reconciling Ministries Network responds to Schaefer trial"

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)
newest oldest most voted
Notify of
Ben Cathey

The UMC has handled this situation with grace and poise. Proud of that aspect of who we are. May we move forward with the same intentionality and deliberation.

Betty Terrell

And do we really believe that the Book of Discipline is superior to the actions of Jesus Christ when He was on earth? Eating and staying in the homes of the socially rejected, and so on. Hmm. "I have decided to follow Jesus, no turning back, no turning back."

Diane Hawk
I would like to ask ALL United Methodist clergy join Frank Schaefer in 30 days of spiritual discernment. Can we stay united? Is God calling us to a new place of ministry, or are we called to move to a different place? Should we turn in our credentials and seek God's kingdom even though it may mean a loss of our livelihood, and pension? Should we dust off our feet and seek God's kingdom in a different place? In other words, let's ALL join with our brother Frank in asking God these questions. I would suggest that we unite in… Read more »

The whole world was watching a kangaroo court called into being by a loon who was pressing a private grudge and who admired the likes of Pat Robertson. The court lacks any credibility.

John JP Patterson

Hmmm… Does the "Tea Party" Advise the Supreme Court?

As UMR Reported: Lambrecht, the Executive Director and Vice President of "Good News" [Magazine], was a consultant to the counsel [Prosecutor] for the church [Council of Bishops], Christopher Fisher, throughout the trial.

Please note: “The Good News Magazine” and “The Confessing Movement” are independent organizations and NOT affiliated with the United Methodist Church. They have no official capacity and no authority in matters pertaining to the UMC.

Wes Andrews

As I said, the bullies are the Reconciling movement. The UMC has been so kind, caring and gracious. And the Reconciling movement depicts that graciousness as "steamrolling." The jury is in and the intolerance is not coming from the UMC or the Book of Discipline.


This is why I spit whenever I walk by one of those Satanic Methodist churches. All they do is preach bigotry and hate!


How is this issue even relevant since the wedding was 6 years ago and the legalism of the UMC GC had not taken place?

Jeffrey Olah

this has been policy in the book of discipline since 1972

%d bloggers like this: