Frank Schaefer appears at Foundry UMC


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.

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22 Comments on "Frank Schaefer appears at Foundry UMC"

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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“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


Amen & AMEN Wad

JD Allen
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… Read more »

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.

James Ballard

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

Wes Andrews

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


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

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.

Joye Jones

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

Christian Marble
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… Read more »

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…..

DL Herring

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”.


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… Read more »
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… Read more »
Don Salisbury
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… Read more »

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.

Tim Sanders
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… Read more »
bill krill

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


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.


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

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