Defrocked UM pastors gather at Foundry UMC

Jimmy Creech and Beth Stroud join the Rev. Dean Snyder in addressing the Foundry United Methodist Church.

Jimmy Creech and Beth Stroud join the Rev. Dean Snyder in addressing the Foundry United Methodist Church.

by  Jan  Lawrence*

Washington, DC — Three former United Methodist pastors who have had their credentials removed related to issues around homosexuality appeared together yesterday at a special worship service at the Foundry United Methodist Church in Washington, D.C. Advertised as a service for hope and justice, Frank Schaefer, Jimmy Creech, and Beth Stroud all spoke, proclaiming their belief that GLBT persons should be fully welcomed into all aspects of The United Methodist Church.

Schaefer, who was defrocked this past November for presiding at the wedding ceremony of his gay son, was the featured preacher for the morning, drawing on Luke 8:22-25 and Matthew 14: 25-32 for his text.

“God is asking all of us to step out of the boat of comfort onto the waters …. even if it means we have to risk everything,” Schaefer said in his second address to the Foundry congregation this month.

 His message was simple: God wants us to have faith,” and when we do he will help us face the storm. “When we get distracted and take our eye off of Jesus,” Schaefer said, “God will lift us out of the waters, just as he did Peter in the scripture above.”

Schaefer related how he had risked and lost it all when he said to the jury what he believed God had put on his heart, “I cannot refuse ministry to anyone based on their sexual orientation.” He called these extraordinary times.  Schaefer said that God asks his followers to have faith in situations in life where we don’t believe it is possible. He reminded the congregation that God will never leave them and will sustain them. “God is always going to make sure that we are okay,” Schaefer said.

Frank Schaefer preaches to the Foundry UMC congregation.

Frank Schaefer preaches to the Foundry UMC congregation.

Schaefer spoke about his experience of being thrust into the public eye, meeting people he has never encountered before who thank him for the impact his witness has had on them. He said, “If you follow God’s call, it will have a tremendous impact on people everywhere.” He remarked that he has speaking engagements lined up into the near future and is busier preaching than he was before the trial.

Schaefer told the story of Heather, a lesbian who contacted him recently. She told him that her experience growing up in the United Methodist Church was to learn that Jesus had grace for everyone (murders, prostitutes, tax collectors),… “but, not for people like me.” He reminded the congregation that there was someone else who understood: “My God! My God! Why hast thou forsaken me?”.  His message to Heather and the congregation is that Jesus knows what you are going through and feeling.

The January 26th service also included Jimmy Creech and Beth Stroud, former UM clergy, who previously had their credentials removed for violating the Book of Discipline. Creech was defrocked for celebrating a holy union for two male parishioners from his appointed church, and Stroud for being in a committed, covenant relationship with her female partner.

Creech quoted an author who had remarked that there were many individual heroes of the faith but only a few communities that carry that title, and that Foundry is one of them.  Stroud thanked Foundry for its strong ministry and reminded the congregation that LGBT people are not the only oppressed people in the church, mentioning her fear was that the UMC might become a church where affluent LGBT people are welcomed while homeless LGBT youth of color will still perish.

After the service there was a panel discussion where each of the three guests offered remarks from their experiences and then took questions from the floor.

Bishop Gene Robinson, retired Bishop from the Episcopal Church,  joined those gathered for a few minutes and remarked, “When there are saints in town, I tend to show up.” Creech called the consecration of Bishop Gene Robinson by the Episcopal Church historic and a stamp of blessing on all same-gender-loving couples …. for the whole church, not just the Episcopal church.

Dorothee Benz of Methodists chair of New Directions (MIND), spoke as a representative of the Rev. Tom Ogletree who is scheduled for a church trial on March 10 and 11 in Stamford, CT. Rev. Ogletree is also charged with violating the discipline by performing the marriage of his son and his partner.

*Jan Lawrence is a member of the Foundry United Methodist Church. 
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33 Comments on "Defrocked UM pastors gather at Foundry UMC"

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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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Jan Lawrence
Guest
2 years 5 months ago
I just checked back in to review the comments. The last several comments bother me more than some of the earlier conversation because those commenting show no respect for each other or for the LGBT people who are United Methodists. Liberal views and conservative views have been ridiculed and called wrong. One thing that I know very well is that there are more than two perspectives here and that the people with those perspectives all deserve respect. Just because they don’t agree with what you or I might think does not make their perspective less worthy of consideration. There may… Read more »
Wes Andrews
Guest
Wes Andrews
2 years 5 months ago

I agree Jan.
The discussion should be civil and honoring, with no bullying, labeling or name calling.
All people should be loved and welcomed in our church.
We should be particularly sensitive to all youth at that challenging time for them as they sort out their place in the world and in the church.

jim
Guest
jim
2 years 5 months ago

The United Methodist Church is a sewer of anti-gay bigotry and hypocrisy. Biblical standards of marriage certainly don’t apply to any divorced members of the church–they’re exceptions–but gay people must be held to the law of a tribe of Judean hillbillies from the Iron Age. There’s Christian charity for you. Gay people should scrape this repulsive church from the soles of their feet and walk out. This church will never do justice to gay people because justice is not what this church cares about.

Kevin
Guest
Kevin
2 years 5 months ago

Jim
A little harsh don’t you think? Maybe you should switch to decaf. You post does illustrate the depth and breadth of the divide. I’ll give you that.

Wes Andrews
Guest
Wes Andrews
2 years 5 months ago

jim, you make the point for me that the pro-gay marriage/ordination crowd are bullies. The UMC is NOT a sewer it has always been FULL of grace, but it appears your attitude and those who stand with you are the sewer of which you write…

Roger B. Tanquist
Guest
2 years 6 months ago

It’s fascinating how some insist on taking part of Leviticus very literally, while passing over other segments. I’ve changed my views of homosexuality due to the findings of sensitive Biblical scholars who search for truth.
Too often some scholars search for evidence to support their position. I identify with scholars who search for truth–wherever that takes us. I find that acceptance and inclusion are in line with the Gospel of Jesus.

Wes Andrews
Guest
Wes Andrews
2 years 6 months ago
Roger, this is not about “part of Leviticus” or even the first chapter of Romans. The Biblical definition of sexuality and marriage is found in teaching and examples throughout the Old and New Testament. It is not from one verse here or one verse there. It is disingenuous to suggest that scholars and students and people of faith over the past 5000 years have based this teaching on one or two “misinterpreted” verses, and then all of a sudden a few people in the past 30 or so years have discovered that all those years everyone missed it.. Sure I… Read more »
Jay
Guest
Jay
2 years 6 months ago

Yes, Russ, the UMC is moving on to the African continent where the Fred Phelps theology is very popular. As gay people are beaten, imprisoned, murdered in the name of God, you can be very proud of Methodism’s success in Africa.

methodist pie
Guest
methodist pie
2 years 6 months ago

Jay, when it comes to bigotry, your comments re our brothers and sisters in Africa come across every bit as offensive as anything Fred Phelps has ever said. I say that as one who’s been picketed by Fred Phelps. There are nutty people on both sides of this issue, which only goes to reinforce my caution of moving in either direction.

Jan Lawrence
Guest
2 years 6 months ago
I have read the comments to the article posted yesterday, and since I wrote the article I am going to take some license to offer a different perspective. I am not an advocate of a split in the denomination for many reasons beginning with the simple fact that it doesn’t solve anything. It just builds additional barriers within the Body. There are multiple perspectives on what the issue is and what the path forward is with respect to the internal struggle within the United Methodist Church. I think we all need to pause and consider that as we craft resolutions,… Read more »
Wes Andrews
Guest
Wes Andrews
2 years 6 months ago
Jan, your very sober comments about your article are appreciated. The tone of respecting people on all sides of the issue is also refreshing. You make several suggestions that I wish would help, but I just don’t think they get to the source of the issue. I don’t think the source of the issue is a lack of educating people or a lack of a exchange of ideas. Sharing information and talking face to face is always preferable. For instance if Jay knew me face to face and had an open heart, he would be less likely to call me… Read more »
Jan Lawrence
Guest
2 years 6 months ago
Wes, Thanks for your comments. I agree with some of what you say but obviously not all of it. I have been a part of some of the holy conversation we have had to date and can tell you that it is anything but that. You cannot have a productive dialogue if you can’t start it on equal footing. When the opening comments are insulting to those present not much productive happens. I believe the Bishops have the authority to do more than they have to stop the progress of the charges in this area. Putting that aside, we need… Read more »
Kevin
Guest
Kevin
2 years 6 months ago
Of course these trials are expensive. The rules must be carefully followed and that takes time and manpower. They are the tool of last resort when all previous attempts to resolve the presenting issue fail. The lower level attempts will fail because those in favor of same sex partnerships believe their cause is just and will not back down. That is part of the strategy. If the same sex crowd can affect the conference budgets and cause bishops to cancel trials then the enforcement mechanism in sustaining our policy breaks down effectively changing the current policy. It is analogous to… Read more »
Wes Andrews
Guest
Wes Andrews
2 years 6 months ago

Jan, what do you think about the core issue in regard to our source of authority?

Jay
Guest
Jay
2 years 6 months ago
With all due respect, Jan Lawrence, we do not have to work together. I have formally left the United Methodist Church because a denomination that says that homosexuality is incompatible with Christianity is guilty of falsehood and bigotry. Many others have done the same. I was a member of a fully accepting congregation that simply flouted the absurdity of the BoD, but that position is becoming increasingly untenable. I think the congregations that actually believe in the Gospel message of inclusion and acceptance should be allowed to leave with their property and form or join another denomination. It is intolerable… Read more »
Jan Lawrence
Guest
2 years 6 months ago
Jay, I respect your decision to leave the United Methodist Church. I made the decision to stay. I have lived both sides of the church experience. I was in the Florida Conference before moving to the D.C. area which was just a bit more conservative. I did not choose the United Methodist Church because of its inclusion of LGBT people. The reasons I chose it are still very relevant today. I chose the United Methodist Church because I saw local churches in three different states I lived in being very relevant and engaged in the local community. That doesn’t mean… Read more »
Wes Andrews
Guest
Wes Andrews
2 years 6 months ago
I have been part of UM churches who included and embraced gay people. Affirming marriage for same sex couples should NOT be a condition required for the church to be considered inclusive of gay people. And yes, there is a right and wrong. It is wrong and not in God’s will that we lie. It is wrong and not in God’s will that we murder. It is wrong and not in God’s will that we lust or commit adultery. It is wrong and not in God’s will for more than two people to enter into a marriage relationship. It is… Read more »
Yvonne Clarke
Guest
Yvonne Clarke
2 years 6 months ago

The question of whether to welcome the GLBTQ community to our churches entitled to the full equality given to the straight community should not be confused with the issue of churches which may be following a progressive path supposedly leading to tossing out traditional beliefs and heading towards Unitarianism. I know many in the UMC (myself included) who are very much accepting of including the GLBTQ community with full equality and yet remain strongly centered in traditional Christian beliefs. The two do NOT go hand in hand.

MethodistPie
Guest
MethodistPie
2 years 6 months ago

Yep.

Wes Andrews
Guest
Wes Andrews
2 years 6 months ago

Well said Yvonne!

MethodistPie
Guest
MethodistPie
2 years 6 months ago

I am curious about something. I saw this event advertised on the REPORTER web site (it’s still there, in the upper right hand corner). Did Foundry pay for the ad? Like I said, just curious.

Thomas Coates
Guest
Thomas Coates
2 years 6 months ago

That is indeed curious, looks like an ad. Regardless though, Foundry UMC is still a UMC, and on lay speaking Sundays and in other situations, the church can invite anyone to speak, ordained or laity, I see no issue here. It would be no different than allowing Good News/Confessing/IRD people to do the same (and they certainly do).

John
Guest
John
2 years 6 months ago
Regarding the following paragraph; Schaefer told the story of Heather, a lesbian who contacted him recently. She told him that her experience growing up in the United Methodist Church was to learn that Jesus had grace for everyone (murders, prostitutes, tax collectors),… “but, not for people like me.” He reminded the congregation that there was someone else who understood: “My God! My God! Why hast thou forsaken me?” Regardless of your affiliation (for or against the full inclusiveness of LGBT individuals) I think that this is an imperfect comparison. because… A. If you are for inclusion, then the fact that… Read more »
Jay
Guest
Jay
2 years 6 months ago

There are a lot of saints at Foundry. I completely agree with what Jeff says above. I expect a lot of individual congregations to speak out against bigotry, especially when it is imposed from above, as in the Indiana church that rebelled against a new pastor that fired their beloved choir director. Curiously, I also agree with Wes Andrews: Let our people leave an oppressive denomination.

jeff
Guest
jeff
2 years 6 months ago
These brave clergy have brought us to what might be the midpoint of the struggle for equality. There will probably be more clergy trials and I don’t think that alone will force the bishops to end the prosecution of gay pastors and same sex weddings. I think the bishops are probably willing to endure a trial or two per year. I believe the next phase must be led by the laity. Individual congregations, like Foundry, can open their doors to same sex weddings. The twist is, they should invite clergy from other denominations to perform them. That way the UM… Read more »
Wes Andrews
Guest
Wes Andrews
2 years 6 months ago

These congregations should be allowed to leave the denomination with their property. The clergy who don’t affirm the Biblical definition of sexuality and marriage should turn in the UM credentials, and give these churches which leave the denomination the opportunity to support them. Each year those clergy, Bishops, agency employees who wish to remain in the denomination should be required to reaffirm their commitment to honor doctrine of the denomination that pays them. It is insanity and lacks integrity to work for an organization while at the same time a person doesn’t agree with its core beliefs.

Bevo
Guest
2 years 6 months ago

Levae the UMC! Your views are not welcome in the UMC and the church’s position has been sustained in every General Conference since 1972!

Mariana
Guest
Mariana
2 years 6 months ago
With respect to the separation issue, the difficulty of separating pensions is extremely difficult. I am attorney and I’ve worked on a peculiar pension “split” and it is exceedingly difficult, both actuarily and operationally, to divide responsibility for pensions unless it is done on a new hire only basis. Otherwise, you have to calculate who is liable for the X number of years of service in the UMC system, and how many years were spent in this “new system”. In a truely fair split, the UMC would remain responsible for years of service under the UMC umbrella. The next issue… Read more »
Kevin
Guest
Kevin
2 years 6 months ago
Mariana Good summary. My understanding is that some conferences have unfunded pension liabilities. There might be a way to look this up. This would blow a huge hole in conference budgets if the split occurs as you described. I doubt if anyone is seriously looking at this as a real possibility or there would be some sort of working group hashing this out. Right now it looks as if UMC leadership will keep patching things up and kicking the can down the road until the wheels come off and then we will be sort of like the Episcopal Church. Mired… Read more »
Thomas Coates
Guest
Thomas Coates
2 years 6 months ago

So… condemning LGBTQ people is a “Core belief” of Methodism and Christianity?
I disagree…

Wes Andrews
Guest
Wes Andrews
2 years 6 months ago

Absolutely not, Thomas.

All people are created in the image of God and have sacred worth, that’s the witness of Scripture and is reflected in the BOD.
The Scripture doesn’t not endorse couples living together outside of marriage, but we don’t “hate” those people.
The Scripture doesn’t endorse lying, but we don’t “hate” people who have lied.
The Scripture doesn’t endorse people lusting for one another, but we don’t “hate” them either.
And no, the Scripture doesn’t endorse same sex marriage, but we certainly SHOULD NOT “hate” gays or lesbians, either.

Peter DeGroote
Guest
2 years 6 months ago

A biblical definition of marriage is not as easy as it seems. Recall that polygamy was common throughout much of its history.

DL Herring
Guest
DL Herring
2 years 6 months ago
Wes, Thank you! Releasing this rebellious “progressive” sect, from the UM trust clause with their respective property, is the best possible solution. Although, after separation all pensions, insurance, and other entitlements must be severed; otherwise the orthodox faithful will still be funding this “new and improved” denomination. The real problem lies with the “progressive ultra-liberal” mindset. They don’t really want a separate denomination. Progressives always want to force others to conform to their own twisted ideas and philosophies. Beware, too, that this gay-marriage issue is just the tip of the iceberg! The liberal element is leading us more and more… Read more »
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