Penn. United Methodists deliver petition to bishop calling for end to trials

Bishop Johnson receives petitions  Photo by Jamie Stround

Bishop Johnson receives petitions Photo by Jamie Stround

NORRISTOWN, Pa.  — A group of United Methodists from throughout Pennsylvania delivered a petition signed by 25,000 Christians across the country, calling on Bishop Peggy Johnson not to put any more pastors on trial over gay weddings.

The petition comes after United Methodist pastor Frank Schaefer was put on trial for officiating at the wedding of his gay son, suspended from ministry, and ordered to obey the church’s anti-gay rules or else lose his ordination credentials.

“Being a good Methodist pastor isn’t just about following official rules, it’s about loving and serving God’s people, including those who are gay or lesbian. We’re calling on Bishop Johnson to stop putting pastors on trial for doing exactly what Jesus has called them to do,” stated Rev. Dr. Karyn L. Wiseman, Associate Professor of Homiletics and Director of United Methodist Studies with the Lutheran Theological Seminary at Philadelphia.

“The trial of Frank Schaefer was a profoundly unchristian exercise in casting judgement on a man for the crime of loving and supporting his gay son. The United Methodist Church has reached a moment of moral crisis, and I’m praying that Bishop Johnson will act boldly and help us save the church from its own unjust policy,” said Richard Kirk, co-chair of Reconciling United Methodists of Eastern Pennsylvania and member of Calvary United Methodist Church in Philadelphia.

Bunnie Bryant, a life-long member of Union United Methodist Church in Havertown stated, “like many who call for the Church to open its doors to everyone, I am frustrated and angry. I know our Bishop has a heart for justice; I know she feels the hurt of the people within her Conference and beyond.  Because of that, I ask her to stop the madness in whatever way she can.”

While accepting the petitions, Bishop Peggy Johnson stated, “I want to assure you, as your bishop, I tried very, very, very hard to avoid this trial. I used all the means that I had to try to solve it, and I did not prevail. I’m praying we never have to fail again, and we’ll try harder, and I hear your voice.”

In recent weeks, growing numbers of United Methodist clergy — in Pennsylvania and across the country — have begun publicly disregarding the church’s rules prohibiting same-sex weddings. In a show of solidarity with the Rev. Frank Schaefer, some 50 UMC pastors co-officiated at the wedding of two men at Arch Street United Methodist Church in Philadelphia on November 9. And on October 26 in Alabama, Bishop Melvin Talbert officiated at the wedding of two men.

Today’s petition was organized by Faithful America, a nationwide online community which works to “reclaim Christianity from the religious right and putting faith into action for social justice.”

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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18 Comments on "Penn. United Methodists deliver petition to bishop calling for end to trials"

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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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Arthur Winch
Guest

Is that why we have open communion? When ALL are invited to the table….if what you say is true then there would have to be a form filled out before communion stating that you accept all the United Methodist teachings and that is simply not the case. Maybe the whole communion idea should go on trial? At least according to your guidelines on who can be a member. I think you're in the wrong church!!

Jay
Guest
Bishop Johnson said, "I want to assure you, as your bishop, I tried very, very, very hard to avoid this trial. I used all the means that I had to try to solve it, and I did not prevail. I’m praying we never have to fail again, and we’ll try harder, and I hear your voice.” If she really wanted to avoid a trial, she could have done so. Her failure of leadership was to acquiesce to injustice. I wonder why the only clergy being charged and brought to trial are those who minister to gay people. We are often… Read more »
MethodistPie
Guest

Wes says it wonderfully. This at the heart of my frustration: I've been serving United Methodist congregations for a long time, in diverse settings. Casting Methodists as close-minded bigots simply does not compute. I've seen churches living out Open Hearts, Open Minds, Open Doors, offering welcoming hands to homosexual individuals and couples. But the "agenda" requires "oppressors." Knowing what I know about Methodist congregations and pastors, casting the rank-and-file as Bull Connors seems bizarre–and about 180 degrees from "love." God help us all if such "love" prevails.

Wes Andrews
Guest

WAD, for the pro-gay marriage folk it is not about what's best for the church. It's about their perceived rights and if that destroys local church and fractures denominations there is no indication that they give a rat's rear about it. Even though most folks and local UM churches have bent over backwards to offer grace and love and welcomed all into community, the pro-gay marriage folk now bite the hand that welcomed and embraced them in the name of the Biblical Jesus…

Wes Andrews
Guest

as have I, but in those cases there was an issue that the parties in the know wanted to keep from blowing up and the Bishop basically asked the elder to turn in his/her credentials to avoid a trial… honestly that's what Schaefer should have done… or he should have gone to a denomination which doesn't embrace the Biblical view of marriage and prayed or shared vows, but not officially "presided" over the wedding. This was as much to make a statement and force an issue as it might have been about "love."

MethodistPie
Guest

I've known of clergy who had their orders removed without a trial. They did it, were terminated–that was that. Not sure I understand the difference.

Wes Andrews
Guest

but, the system really doesn't allow a Bishop to fire an elder in full connection, and if it did few would have the backbone to do so…… therefore we have expensive "trials"

rbarstar32@hotmail.c
Guest

Yes, The UMC has OPEN DOORS for those who are willing to accept the Christian Doctrine. However, we are not open to those who interpret the Scriptures to meet their own personal philosophy and blatantly abide by those practices in spite of the Biblical teachings. Becoming a member requires REPENTANCE; that means CHANGE! Ministers know that before becoming ordained. Let the trials continue.

Wes Andrews
Guest

I agree no need for a trial really…. Schaefer should simply have his credentials removed…

Jamie Torres
Guest
I'm curious as to why you think this man's credentials should be taken away?? Cuz he violated a law?? If you speed even once should they take your license?? He did this out of fairness and love for everybody it's what jesus would have wanted him to do so who are you to judge that he was wrong for being that loving caring compassionate Pastor he vowed to be just because he violated a rule I know everyone's entitled to their own opinion but if you don't support nor stand behind this man for what he did then your not… Read more »
james
Guest

The bishops serve at the altar of political correctness–and hide behind the phylacteries of the office they hold…………..

Lawrence Kreh
Guest

Reluctantly agree to the obvious

Lawrence Kreh
Guest

Please delete this my comment–it was intended as a reply elsewhere.

Lawrence

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