Schaefer states that he cannot uphold Book of Discipline

_MG_0971_550The Rev. Frank Schaefer, the United Methodist clergyperson recently convicted for disobeying the teaching of the United Methodist Church for presiding at the same-sex wedding of his son, held a press conference today to announce that he would be unable to affirm the United Methodist Book of Discipline in its full entirety when he meets with the Eastern Pennsylvania Annual Conference Board of Ordained Ministry (BOM) this Thursday.

Schaefer was found guilty last month of participating in his son’s same-sex wedding and disobeying the order of the church by a jury of his peers. Schaefer was given a 30 day suspension and the opportunity to retain his clergy credentials if he were able to “affirm the UM Book of Discipline in its entirety…” to the  BOM at the end of the 30 day period. The jury said that if Schaefer would be unable to do so, his ministerial credentials would be revoked.

In a statement read at the press conference and released on the Reconciling Ministries Network website, Schaefer acknowledged that friends and supporters had urged him to affirm the Book of Discipline (which includes proscriptions against participating in same-sex weddings, the ordination of GLBT persons, and a statement which proclaims that homosexuality is incompatible with Christian teaching). However, as the 30 day deadline approaches, Schaefer stated that he believed he would be unable to do so. “Frankly, my conscience does not allow me to uphold the entire Discipline,” Schaefer said, “because it contains discriminatory provisions and language that is hurtful and harmful to our homosexual brothers and sisters. It denies them their full humanity. I simply cannot uphold those parts of the Discipline.”

Schaefer hinted at a possible legal challenge to the penalty in declaring that he would not “voluntarily surrender” his ministerial credentials. “I also believe that the jury’s penalty stipulation is against the Book of Discipline,” Schaefer said. “In my understanding, a trial court does not have the right to require of a defendant to voluntarily surrender his credentials based on a conditional or a future action that has not yet occurred.”

Schaefer challenged the BOM to consider allowing him to retain his credentials to allow him to continue in a ministry of support and advocacy to GLBT persons. The BOM, he suggested, “…could decide to leave my credentials in place and affirm me as a voice for the LGBT community—a decision which would demonstrate a willingness to engage in a new dialogue and discernment process and a path toward healing.”

Schaefer will meet with the Board of Ordained Ministry this Thursday, December 19.

Click here to read the full statement on the Reconciling Ministries Network website.

Jay Voorhees, Former Executive Editor

The Rev. Jay Voorhees is the Executive Editor of The United Methodist Reporter and the Chief Creative Officer for CircuitWriter Media LLC which operates this site and MethoBlog.com. Jay is an ordained elder in the Tennessee Annual Conference. Jay has written on life and the practice of faith in The United Methodist Church at Only Wonder Understands since 2003.

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27 Comments on "Schaefer states that he cannot uphold Book of Discipline"

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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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Jeff
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I’m pretty sure that Moses didn’t bring the BOD down from the Mount. The BOD is nothing but humans interpreting the Bible to say what they already thought and wished it said, whether it says that or not. Jesus set the example. Churches, especially this one (and my own Presbyterian) refuse follow that example.

james
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Another person in an earlier discussion pointed to II Timothy chapter 3. Check it out.

Bradley Collard
Guest

I respectfully disagree. Bishops and other ministers states that nobody lives up to the entire BOD. Furthermore, the BOD is in conflict with other FUMC principles. I don’t agree with the threat of a lawsuit, but he is right to say he cannot live up to the BOD. Nobody can.

Jay
Guest
I don’t often agree with Methodist Pie, but I agree with the post above. I, for one, will not remain a member of the UMC if it continues to persecute pastors who minister to gay people on an equal basis. Although I am happy with my completely accepting congregation that will soon conduct a same-sex wedding, I cannot remain in a denomination that officially believes, contrary to my understanding of the Bible and to the plain evidence of my senses, that “homosexuality is incompatible with Christianity.” I suspect that many congregations will soon have to make a choice and leave… Read more »
Brad Collard
Guest

How can the UMC reconcile the BOD with its public stances on the GLBT community? On one hand we say we don’t discriminate and on the other we don’t perform marriages for our GLBT brothers and sisters. The BOD also says we will not ordain openly gay ministers. Is it better for them to live a lie of who they are? I tip my hat to the minister who didn’t disown his son but decided to love him unconditionally. We cannot pretend to understand and minister to the GLBT community and minister to them differently.

MethodistPie
Guest

We’ve got this playing out on the east coast, while out west, two Methodist clergy women exchange nuptials in a service officiated by their District Superintendent. This ought to be fun (not): 2016 in Portland! Just what we needed: General Conference in the Pacific Northwest!!! Let’s save some money, declare ourselves a congregational polity and be done with the whole thing.

Wes Andrews
Guest
MethodistPie, essentially the good folks of the UMC, that is the membership that have paid for everything and many of the idealistic clergy have been bamboozled and betrayed by the Agencies and Higher Ed institutions (this includes many of our Bishops) that gladly accept money from United Methodists, and yet have nothing but distain toward those generous people because of their commitment to Scripture. Essentially, it’s “give us your money, but you people are ignorant, bigoted, backward, homophobic, and wrong.” Now I’m sure their are some faithful people in the agencies and higher ed institutions, but they are not the… Read more »
johns79
Guest
So, two challenges to the UMC. Will it enforce the BOD? and if it does and if Schaefer carries through on his veiled threat of civil suit against the UMC if it does hold to the BOD can it or will it defend those actions in court? The bigger question is what happens to any religion once its precepts are subject to civil jurisdiction. I presume that after this Schaefer will continue to show his courage by sueing all other relgions and denominations that do not allow same sex marriage. After all, this isn’t about him and his credentials, its… Read more »
Gil Caldwell
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How does one explain the “God of the Bible” to my grand daughter when she hears me and others in our family speak of how Christians once enslaved our ancestors and segregated us because we are African Americans? What must I say to her when she sees on television, persons dressed in white robes, in the presence of burning crosses, reading from the Bible? I want her to come to know a God who despises those who diminish Scripture by linking their racial bias and bigotry to their distorted view of the “God of the Bible”. And, I want her… Read more »
Forgiven Sinner
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Gil – You teach your daughter about the “God of the Bible” by reading and studying the Bible – God’s Holy Word – with her, and allowing the Holy Spirit to reveal God’s love and biblical truth to her. It sounds like you are more interested in letting your own biases take priority over the truth of Scripture – which is exactly what slave traders, klansmen and bigots did.

Wes Andrews
Guest

Whoa. How about look at the whole picture Gil? How about all the work Jesus followers did at risk of life in abolition movement? How about all those Jesus followers who love people and not the few are are lost?

Geoff
Guest

Maybe you should mention that they are sinners like you. If you are pro-choice and 200 years from now everyone is pro-life, what would you want them to say about you?

Forgiven Sinner
Guest
Just exactly how does refusal to recognize and condone sinful behavior “deny them their full humanity?” The Bible contains pages and pages of verses and language that many in sinful, self-indulgent and rebellious lifestyles would consider “harmful and hurtful.” Biblical truth isn’t concerned about it’s potential to hurt someone’s feelings. This sadly pathetic, shallow and immature view of what “God is love” truly means comes from an alarmingly tragic failure to know the God of the Bible, and to love Him with all of our heart, soul, mind and strength. It is not hate, bigotry, or insensitivity to refer to… Read more »
johns79
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As an attempt to give perspective to this: “Just exactly how does refusal to recognize and condone sinful behavior “deny them their full humanity?” A possible reason is focus on homosexual sin while glossing over or ignoring such heterosexual sins as: adultury, fornication, divorce, cohabitaion, abortion,etc. Churches, to include the UMC, bounce hard on the first and shuffle their feet at the second or quickly forgive becasue the cohabitating, adulterous church leader did the right thing by marrying their fellow sinner. So if marriage (1st, 2nd, 3rd, or 4th) is the magic act that absolves so many sexual sins why… Read more »
Forgiven Sinner
Guest

No one is advocating ignoring or absolving any sin – except the homosexual community. Christians who call out homosexual sin are not marching and waving a banner to promote adultery, dishonesty, pride, lust, envy, etc. The difference is that the homosexual community wants their behavior to be eliminated from the sin category. The equivalent would be adulterers wanting to do the same. ALL sin – homosexual, adulterous, prideful, envious, or any other – is to be repented of.

RocksCryOut
Guest
Sins such as “adultury, fornication, divorce, cohabitaion, abortion,etc.” are not glossed over. Perhaps you are simply noticing the fact that no one is marching around the church proudly carrying placards proclaiming “I screwed around on my wife!” or “I’ll have sex with anything that walks!” or “Yay me– I’m divorced!” or “I killed my baby!” Or else you’re confused by the fact that enormous and well-funded advocacy groups simply haven’t yet formed around the “genetically inherited traits” mentioned above, all recognized in Biblical churches as sin. Sin is genetic. Embracing it in any form is spiritually deadly.
Johns79
Guest
Sorry, they are glossed over in many churches. When was the last time you heard a statement or a sermon from the UMC on the sin of divorce? How many marriages do you see in UMC churches where the the participants children (not those from previous marriages) act as members of the wedding party? How often do unmarried parents present their children for baptism? How often is God forgives me used to justify so much? I agree with the BOD on homosexuality, and yes much of the debate is driven by interest groups but it does not change the fact… Read more »
Wes Andrews
Guest
Hogwash… it’s only an issue because activists who aren’t interested in the mission of the church…. have been pushing their agenda for 30 plus years. So instead of the UMC being on mission to proclaim the Good News, and introduce people to Jesus as Lord and Savior, we have people like Mr. Shaefer who attack the overly debated doctrine of the church, call the church unjust, and keep the church distracted from its mission. The church should be focusing on making disciples, but instead it’s focused on making defenses against the agenda and attacks of people who whine and cry… Read more »
Gil Caldwell
Guest
Jimmy Creech* writes this in his book; “Adam’s Gift”; “The course of my life changed when Adam came to my office in 1984. While my understanding of Jesus’s life and teachings compelled me to challenge injustice and stand with the oppressed and disenfranchised, I always believed I would do this in the conventional role of church pastor. I am convinced that prophetic ministry is born in pastoral ministry. I would have happily remained in a local church parish if I had been allowed to do so. But that was not to be. Adam’s disclosure broadened my ministry beyond anything I… Read more »
Wes Andrews
Guest
No mistake was made in 1999. The mistake is thinking the church can stand for justice without any transcendent authority for justice. Once we pick and choose which parts of Scripture we “like” and which we “don’t like” we have lost our transcendent truth. It is that unchanging, transcendent truth that protects us and points to injustices when they occur. With out Truth the church will be blown here and there by every whim, and will be unable to stand against injustice. So, the US is walking away from the Biblical understanding of marriage. We were told that we shouldn’t… Read more »
echarles1
Guest

This hope from a Catholic:
“Simon, Simon, Satan has asked to sift all of you as wheat. But I have prayed for you, Simon, that your faith may not fail. “

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