Frank Schaefer appears at Foundry UMC

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The Rev. Dean Snyder, Sr. Pastor of Foundry UMC in Washington, D.C., welcomes Frank Schaefer as a new member of the Foundry congregation.
UMR photo by Melissa Lauber

Washington, D.C. —  On Dec. 19, Frank Schaefer of the Eastern Pennsylvania Conference was defrocked. Three days later he was back preaching, this time at Foundry United Methodist Church in Washington, D.C., encouraging the Reconciling Congregation to keep struggling for marriage equality and the right of United Methodist pastors to marry same-gender couples.

“It is discriminatory to treat our LGBT (lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender) brothers and sisters as second-class Christians,” he said. “We are at a tipping point. We need to do everything in our power as United Methodists to take our church back, to get rid of the homophobic language that was put in the Book of Discipline in 1972. We have been in homophobic captivity too long. It’s time for us to stand up and say ‘enough is enough.’”

Schaefer had his ministerial credentials taken away from him following a church trial in November after he was found guilty of violating church law by officiating at his son’s wedding to another man in 2007, explained Foundry UMC’s pastor, the Rev. Dean Snyder.

Snyder and a dozen members of Foundry supported Schaefer during the trial, which resulted in Schaefer being given a month to decide if he could agree to uphold the Discipline in its entirety or to surrender his credentials. On Dec. 19, he reported he would not surrender his credentials and the conference’s Board of Ordained Ministry took them from him.

At various points during the trial and its aftermath, Schaefer said he felt sick to his stomach, torn between the tension of offering love and grace to his son, Tim, and obeying one of the laws of the church. “I was standing in that tension and I followed my heart. It was an act of love and my very own church, the one I was serving, said this was wrong.”

However, preaching at Foundry on the fourth Sunday in Advent about the story of Joseph not abandoning Mary in Matthew 1, Schaefer said he believes his decision to support his son’s request was a righteous one.

“When we act in love and grace, even when the tension mounts and we get personally hurt – that’s what God calls righteousness, he said. “Righteousness comes out on the side of love.”

However, Schaefer’s defrocking has caused a dramatic stir within the denomination among those who believe the Discipline contradicts itself by not allowing pastors to officiate at same gender weddings and that “biblical obedience” calls them to minister to all the people of their communities.

When asked if this issue might cause a split in the church, Schaefer replied, “We’re already split. The split is already there in the hearts of the people.”

 

Frank Schaefer leads the Foundry congregation in singing "We Shall Overcome." UMR photo by Melissa Lauber

Frank Schaefer leads the Foundry congregation in singing “We Shall Overcome.”
UMR photo by Melissa Lauber

However, he said, “I am a United Methodist and I am not giving up on this church.” He encouraged all those thinking about leaving to reconsider and those who have left the church to come back. “We need you. We need you in our fight,” he said. “We have veered away from the message of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ, who loves us all.

When a pastor is defrocked, Snyder explained, they lose their membership, which is held in the annual conference, and in The United Methodist Church. This also means losing one’s salary, housing, medical and other benefits. To enable Schaefer to remain a part of the denomination, he was formally accepted as a member of Foundry UMC. The members also took up a love offering to help the Schaefers with their living expenses.

The day after he was defrocked, Schaefer also received an offer from Bishop Minerva Carcaño of the California Pacific Conference who offered him a position as a licensed pastor in her conference. He and his family are earnestly considering the offer,

In the meantime, he’s also waiting to hear about his appeal, which he lodged with the Northeastern Jurisdiction Committee on Appeals. However, he is not expecting to hear from them until mid-2015.

Until then he hopes to continue to minister in the United Methodist tradition. “I am a United Methodist minister. It’s all that I know how to be,” he said. “I still consider myself ordained by the power of God.”

Before the impromptu invitation to Foundry following his defrocking, Schaefer was originally scheduled to preach at the church Jan. 26. He intends to return on that day to preach.

At the end of the service, Snyder called the clergy and other church leaders forward to lay hands on and pray for Schaefer. A prayer was offered by Matt Berryman, executive director of the Reconciling Ministries Network, and then Snyder offered the benediction. “Go in peace to love like Jesus,” he said. “That’s enough, love like Jesus.”

Click here to view the videos from Schaefer’s appearance at Foundry UMC

Melissa Lauber, UMR Special Correspondent

Melissa Lauber

Melissa Lauber is the director of communications for the Baltimore-Washington Annual Conference.

Join the conversation....

  1. A beautiful gesture on the part of the Foundry Church. I hope they will lead us into a new denomination that embraces the fullness of God’s love.

  2. Frank is the person who runs the “Desperate Preacher” website.
    This gives it new meaning, doesn’t it?

  3. MethodistPie says:

    Would this trial have even happened if he had agreed not to do any more of these weddings? From what I’ve read, he certainly wouldn’t have had his orders taken away. So framing this in terms of love for his son seems a little disingenuous.

  4. bill krill says:

    Those who did this to this good man surely lit a fire by doing so; defeating their own hypocritical position.

  5. Two things interested me today (concerning LGBTQ). One occurred at the Foundry United Methodist Church in D.C. and the other occurred at our church, Faith United Church of Christ in Dunedin Florida. We are active in the Faith congregation, and were last at Foundry for their Christmas Eve service nine years ago on a beautiful snowy evening.

    At Faith church today our minister asked George Campbell to tell the congregants a story, and he did. George is in his 80’s but doesn’t act it. He is forever doing things to fix up the church. Anyway, he stood up to the microphone, and in his soft gentle voice said that something wonderful happened with their daughter just recently. She goes to Hawaii yearly at about this time to help coordinate the military ceremonies marking the anniversary of Pearl Harbor; this is to be the last year honoring the veterans of that battle as so few are left.
    Some time ago she had a roommate in college, and after graduating from college and going about their lives for some years, the two ladies recognized that they were a couple, and have lived their lives together ever since, some thirty years. This year for the first time they both went to Hawaii.
    As it happened, the State of Hawaii made same-sex marriage legal about two days before they arrived in Hawaii. They eloped, after thirty years! George was smiling and crying as he told the congregation this story.

    The United Methodist Church (US), or the UMC for short, has been arguing about homosexuality since the mid 1970’s. Before that time there was no language in the Methodist Book of Discipline, which is the rules and regulations for the UMC, about homosexuality. Since then the quadrennial UMC conference has added ever more stringent language to the Book of Discipline, even as more tolerance, and lately acceptance, of the LGBTQ community swept across the US. Recently the Judicial Council of the UMC defrocked a Methodist ordained minister for performing a marriage of two men. (One of the men is the minister’s son.)
    There has been an enormous amount of energetic discussion of the role of the LGBTQ community in the UMC. Lots of discussion, Bible thumping (pro and con), and various forms of emotional conflict have littered the UMC blogosphere.
    We know Reverend Dean Snyder professionally and (somewhat) personally, as he was a congregant at Capitol Hill UMC in Washington while in a staff position to the bishop, and before he took on the Foundry ministry position. Dean has stood up for the LGBTQ community in private and in public, all the while working from the inside to change the official UMC position on homosexuality. Today Rev. Dean Snyder had the defrocked minister, Rev. Frank Schaefer, preach to and lead the Foundry congregation in “We Shall Overcome.” During the service Rev. Schaefer and his family became members of Foundry. We are grateful to Dean for his good stewardship of the Methodist ministry.
    I personally have thought a bit about the LGBTQ community, and about whether non-heterosexuality is or ought to be either criminal or immoral, or simply behavior to shun. I think that DNA determines one’s sexual physiognomy, one’s sexual identity, and one’s “orientation” or desire. (See Time, Love, Memory by Jonathan Weiner.) I also think that DNA is not something which we control, and hence we ought not to criminalize such behavior. Further, I am unaware of any such behavior’s negative impact on society. Rather, I think that society, or some members of society, use physical and social power to condemn the LGBTQ community in order to feel better about themselves. The condemnation of the LGBTQ has been self-serving and illogical. This includes the UMC’s condemnation of non-heterosexual behavior.

    I am now sixty-seven and am not young, but not yet either dead or frail. I do worry that the woolly-man-beasts will succeed in destroying much of the progress my generation accomplished. Today social justice is a valid and motivating ideal which was ignored or disregarded when I was a child. Although President Carter was attacked for his support of justice as being naïve, today social justice is accepted as an appropriate consideration. There are beasts in my world, and they are attacking social justice, and integration of the races, and they attack the LGBTQ. Surprisingly, I am confident that all Homo sapiens thirst for justice and fairness.

    • Please cite this supposed DNA evidence. The Left purports “DNA evidence” where none exists. The consensus among psychologists is still that homosexuality is nurture rather than nature. The only reason the APA removed it from their list of mental disorders is because they were bullied by the gay lobby at one of their meetings, much like how they disrupted the UMC’s Conference last year.

      • The portion of the brain in people not exclusively heterosexual called the cortical region that bridges the two sides of the brain is smaller in exclusively homosexual men than in exclusively heterosexual men. No difference in women who are exclusively homosexual. This cortical bridge is more densely populated with neuro-transmitters in women and homosexual men than in heterosexual men. Also, the spheres of the two sides of the brain are more symmetrical in women and homosexual men than they are in non-homosexual men. The symmetry may explain the ability of women to think through problems rather than reacting to those problems. The human genome is enormous and the study of this genome is on going. If you are looking for new testament biblical scripture from Jesus on this hugely divisive subject, you will find NONE.

  6. All of the rationalization, twisting, and torching of Scripture in the universe will never change the definition that Jesus Christ reaffirmed as God’s plan for marriage — as between one man and one woman. There is no interpretation of the Bible that has ever been developed by man that can change that Biblical fact, that Biblical truth.

    • Joye Jones says:

      Actually, Jesus never affirmed anything about marriage. Look it up.

      • At Matthew 19:4-6, Jesus said — “Haven’t you read that at the beginning the Creator made them male and female. For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife, and the two will become one flesh? So they are no longer two, but one. Therefore what God has joined together, let man not separate”.

        • Christian Marble says:

          Please keep in mind that Jesus was talking about divorce in Matthew 19, which, by the way, people don’t seem to attack with nearly as much vitriol and fervor as they do marriage equality for the LGBT community. Christ wasn’t talking about sexual orientation; he was addressing the importance of fidelity in marriage. God may have made us male and female, but he also made some of us gay, lesbian, bisexual, transgender. We understand this today. We also value commitment, fidelity, and enduring love in relationships. The way for the Church to be Biblically obedient today is to seek to bring the love and joy of Christ to the LGBT community and to bless and support the marriages and families of LGBT Christians.

          • The goal of the church is to spread the Good News–a Babe was born in a manger–He grew to manhood–He honored the Call of the Father and preached for 3 years–the religious establishment AND the politiians of the day hated His Message (just as they do today)–He was arrested-tried-beaten-crucified-buried–on the 3rd Day He defeated death so that any who BELIEVE this Good News and ask Him to live in their heart can be reconciled back to Father/Son/Holy Spirit.

            That, Christian Marble, is the Goal of the Church…….. And the Good News…..

          • Christian Marble, Yes, He was answering about divorce, so what? His answer gives us the definition of Holy marriage as defined by God. Homosexual practice is a mockery to God and an abuse of flesh. God also created people who have a predilection to: pedophilia, alcoholism, gambling, and gluttony! I suppose in the name of PC tolerance” we’ll be putting our stamp of approval on these sins too. After all we’re United Methodists and not allowed to preach about sin anymore; that would offend the sinner and be considered “disparaging”, “marginalizing”, “hateful”, and “intolerant”.

          • Of course he was talking about divorce as the primary focus, but during that discourse, he defined marriage — as between one man and one woman. In other words, divorce was described by Jesus as be between one man and one woman, of which he strongly objected. To Jesus, there was no other kind of marriage and, consequently, no other kind of divorce. No matter how one reads this, interprets this, modernizes this, or fact checks this, that’s what he said. And, I can find nowhere in Scripture where Jesus said something that he did not mean. And yes, divorce is a major problem that the church has not handled very well. But, to add gay marriage to that problem only compounds the marriage problem in our society with both going against the teaching of Jesus.

          • If people were trying to argue that divorce was wonderful in God’s eyes, I’m pretty sure those people would be attacked as heretics.

          • You say Christ’s preaching about divorce doesn’t speak to the issue at hand, but it does because he re-iterates the importance of Gen. Ch 2 and it’s relevants that what the Bible says is that man and woman created for one another. No mention of Male/Male or female/Female as sexual partners or cleaved in the same way, no where, never.

            So you can dismiss it with”Christ wasn’t referring to gay issues in that teaching”, but it can still be applied to the issue because it is related to the issue none-the-less. So Christ did speak to it and it is then the duty of the one claiming God’s word affirms same gender sexual relationships. The burden is in their court and they have yet to show any evidence in the Word or otherwise.

            Also, homosexual advocates always seem to be tight-lipped about what is known as “the fallen nature” of humanity after Adam and Eve were banished from the garden. The fallen nature that pushed Cain to be so full of envy and anger that he killed his brother.

            It is this same fallen nature that gave birth to homosexuality. It is a rebellion against God and what He ordained as a sexual relationship. It belongs to man and woman and no one else. So there is no way to have a “blessing” of same gender sexual relationships(and we all know a gay couple who says they want to be married will engage in the perverted version of sexual intercourse they would engage in since there is no way for 2 of the same gender to have intercourse. Their biology simply doesn’t allow for it, which should be evidence in itself that homosexual relationships don’t fit with scriptural teaching.

            yes, “marriage is more than sex”, true, but it is the assumption that a married couple(men and woman being the only that can marry) will engage in sexual union since God created the attraction which brings them together. The scriptures, in no place, says God created such attractions for same gender, no where, anywhere.

            So it is still the burden of Mr. Shaefer and others to claim that same genders can even have a marriage in the biblical sense. So far there isn’t a sound argument for it. They can be great friends and lifelong friends, but not spouses. That is reserved for male/female.

      • LaVallette says:

        That claim reminds me of my young grandchildren who close their eyes and think that no one else can see them: Matthew 19:4-6, could not be clearer. He makes no qualification about anything in his build up to the “No divorce”. Before he arrives at that directive, he lays down the universal and eternal principles in specific details on which his directive is based. ” And by the way, The Catholic Church, has retained its consistent teaching of the principle of NO divorce with the same conviction as its position on homosexuality, gay marriage, abortion and the the ordination of women.

  7. MethodistPie says:

    I am reminded of the deeper theological divide at work here. I personally find it a little astonishing that congregations would have spent Christmas weekend with GLBTQIA issues. I can respect it–but hardly feel any sense of “connection” with it. I’m sure that’s a two-way street, of course. We really are different churches, aren’t we?

    • Wes Andrews says:

      Again MethodistPie, you provide a sober connection with truth and reality. Sorry, I think Foundry’s UMC’s service was designed to slap and spit the UMC in the face. Their service is NOT about the Good News of Jesus Christ. It is the highest form of exploitation. Their pastor and leadership shows a true bigotry toward the honest and faithful process that the UMC wrestles through to define itself at each GC.

      • Slapping the UMC around, trying to discredit it, and turning it into a forum for secular driven agendas and political movements is NOT the way forward. And, this gay agenda hysteria in the church is completely out of hand, juvenile, and rapidly approaching insanity. And, so much of it is driven by those who are ordained as Methodist elders. Is Satan at work here in our midst?

  8. I watched the service. There is no discipline in the United Methodist Church.

    • Wes Andrews says:

      They may be functioning as Universalist/Unitarians or something else, but not as UMs.

    • If I’m a traveling Methodist and seeking a place of worship each Sunday on my travels, I would be forced to do do some research in advance each week to see what I might be getting involved in at various Methodist churches in a place. Not talking here about traditional vs contemporary worship styles, it has now developed into different doctrine, theology, and Biblical views across the denomination., mostly along the lines of Wesleyan/orthodox/traditional church vs liberal/progressive/secular sensitive church. And, which side of the homosexual debate goes a long way into determining where a given church falls. Essentially , a split in the church has already occurred — and pretending that we’re still a covenant church is just dishonest. We can’t move forward this way. Something has to give.

  9. Homosexualily is sin. Same sex marriage is perversion.
    The gay and pro-gay people in the UMC ought to leave; go join a gay denomination like
    the Episcopalians or the Evangelical Lutherans.
    If they stay and keep splitting the church then we’ll have a civil war similar to the schism of 1844. Is schism what they really want? Fights like that don’t spread the gospel or the love of Jesus. We’ve debated this issue since 1972. The majority has voted over and over to follow the Bible and that majority is growing. The overseas UMs are growiwng while the American UMs are shrinkinig. Gay lobbyists-give up,, move on, and join some other church.
    Leave the rest of us in peace.

    • I’m not UMC, but I’ve always puzzled over this.

      When I became a Christian and started having problems with Roman Catholicism which I was raised in, I left the church and joined one without those issues. I think it shows a complete lack of integrity to lose a bunch of votes for change and to pretend those votes never happened. Let alone try to change an organization away from its founding premise.

      But let’s be honest. It’s not surprising in another sense since we wrestle not against flesh and blood. Satan doesn’t like Bible-believing churches.

  10. Amen & AMEN Wad

  11. “Now I urge you, brethren, keep your eye on those who cause dissensions and hindrances contrary to the teaching which you learned, and turn away from them. For such men are slaves, not of our Lord Christ but of their own appetites; and by their smooth and flattering speech they deceive the hearts of the unsuspecting.” Romans 16:17-18

Your thoughts?

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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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