Recently Read: Frank Schaefer Reinstated

Rev. Frank Schaefer "refrocked". Graphic courtesy of Reconciling Ministries Network

Rev. Frank Schaefer “refrocked”. Graphic courtesy of Reconciling Ministries Network

The Rev. Frank Schaefer, who was stripped of his ministerial credentials in a church trial in summer of 2013 has been reinstated by Jurisdictional Committee on Appeals.

UPDATED 6/24/2014 – 4:19pm : UMC.org has posted the official statement from the Committee on Appeals.

The compound penalty the Trial Court fashioned for purposes of this judicial proceeding — a 30-day suspension, to be followed by a mandatory surrender of credentials if the Respondent failed to satisfy the Board of Ordained Ministry that he would henceforth uphold the Book of Discipline “in its entirety” — is not within the range of penalties authorized by ¶ 2711.3 of the Discipline. Trial Courts have ample latitude to select an appropriate penalty from among the alternatives listed in ¶ 2711.3, but those penalty provisions are to be strictly construed and do not allow the mixing and matching of penalties that are designed to be distinct. Judicial Council Decision No. 240. Nor may the imposition of any penalty, let alone the enhanced penalty of a withdrawal of credentials, be predicated on “a future possibility, which may or may not occur, rather than a past or present act.” Decision No. 725.

Consequently, errors of Church law vitiate the penalty imposed by the Trial Court and the penalty imposed on Respondent shall be modified as follows: The Respondent is suspended, without compensation, from the exercise of all duties and functions of a pastor, and from the enjoyment of all privileges of a member in full connection of the Annual Conference, for a period of 30 days, which suspension shall be deemed to have commenced on November 19, 2013 and ended December 18, 2013. Pursuant to ¶ 2711.3 of the Discipline, the Eastern Pennsylvania Annual Conference shall restore Respondent’s credentials and compensate Respondent for all lost salary and benefits dating from December 19, 2013.

Source NY Times via Associated Press

A onetime Methodist pastor who was stripped of his clerical credentials because he presided at the wedding of his gay son is being reinstated, a startling reversal for a large Protestant denomination that, like many, is riven by divisions over same-sex relationships.

A United Methodist Church appeals committee — a nine-member panel made up of laypeople and clergy — said Tuesday that it had decided to overturn the punishment of Frank Schaefer, who with three gay children and a determination to celebrate their relationships has become an unexpected champion of gays and lesbians in church life. The panel deemed the punishment too harsh.

Mr. Schaefer, 52, appealed his defrocking, and last Friday a panel called the Committee on Appeals for the Northeastern Jurisdiction of The United Methodist Church held a nearly three-hour-long hearing on the case, and then deliberated behind closed doors, at a hotel in Linthicum, Md., near Baltimore-Washington International Airport. At the hearing, an advocate for the church’s Eastern Pennsylvania conference, which had ruled against Mr. Schaefer, argued that church courts had an obligation to uphold church law.

The Rev. Christopher Fisher, who represented the Eastern Pennsylvania Conference, said that though church elders were not perfect, they committed themselves to the church’s laws and, if they disagreed, they should try to change the laws through petition rather than disobey them.

The appeals panel did not question Mr. Schaefer’s guilt but significantly altered his punishment. It changed his penalty to a 30-day suspension, which it deemed to have already taken place.

“Errors of Church law vitiate the penalty imposed on the Respondent by the Trial Court,” the appeals committee said in an 11-page ruling. It said that “the Eastern Pennsylvania Annual Conference shall restore Respondent’s credentials immediately and compensate Respondent for all lost salary and benefits dating from December 19, 2013.”

The decision by the appeals panel can be appealed to the church’s Judicial Council; it was not immediately clear whether church officials would choose to pursue that course.

Source Reconciling Ministries Network

Less than six months after Schaefer’s conference Board of Ordained Ministry took away his clergy credentials, an appeals committee of the Northeastern Jurisdiction of The United Methodist Church has reinstated him to clergy in good standing. Their decision now possibly heads to the Judicial Council, the denomination’s highest law deciding body.

In a statement, Schaefer said, “I can’t even begin to describe how meaningful this ‘refrocking’ is to me. I never did understand the severity of my punishment for an act of love for my son Tim. The committee of appeals understood that my defrocking sought to penalize me not for what I did but for what I might do in the future. But more importantly, today’s decision by the committee is a hopeful sign for our LGBTQ community. They recognized that I was wrongfully punished for standing with those who are discriminated against.”

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58 Comments on "Recently Read: Frank Schaefer Reinstated"

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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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George Nixon Shuler
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In the real world, the UMC is a cypher, not of much interest to others. But this one man has done more to restore the good name of the UMC than the last 4 UMCers to run for or serve as President and Vice-President of the U.S. put together. Frank Schaeffer is certainly a bold witness for Christ and the UMC at its best.

james
Guest

Mr. Salsgiver speaks in great legalese. He would do well in the legal profession The Apostle Paul, in I Corinthians 6 could speak no plainer to the issue at hand. It is time to move on which was stated in another post. No matter what one might state to libs/progs, that statement will be rejected as biased and wrong–no matter how one’s heart is toward God’s children…….

Wes Andrews
Guest
For any and all who could benefit from the balance that is offered from trusting the authority of Scripture: Col. 3:1    Since, then, you have been raised with Christ, set your hearts on things above, where Christ is seated at the right hand of God. 2 Set your minds on things above, not on earthly things. 3 For you died, and your life is now hidden with Christ in God. 4 When Christ, who is your life, appears, then you also will appear with him in glory. Col. 3:5    Put to death, therefore, whatever belongs to your earthly… Read more »
George Nixon Shuler
Guest
I think I see your confusion here: to you “homosexuality” – as you understand it – is merely another for of “sexual sin,” like prostitution, pornography, infidelity (which appears to only be a standard applied to women while men are free to take second wives, concubines, handmaidens, and the like). If I believed such an erroneous notion I too would share your views. However, what is called “homosexuality” today is certainly as apples and oranges to such things. By and large, LGBT folks getting married these days has little to do with sex or sin, and everything to do with… Read more »
james
Guest

Wes and William: all of this is like the doctrine of divine deceit–don’ t you think?

james
Guest
Ah, Russ!! Lowly layman here. Keep thinking, “enough is enough!!” In the broad scope of things–what is “talked” about here will have little consequence on the direction the umc takes. Too many progressives have ensconced themselves in leadership positions. Perhaps the little church I attend has had one pastor such as you–I am not sure. The individual that I “speak” about has moved on–several years ago–and serves on powerful conference committees. So, in all likelihood, that individual probably is not in your category. Would be an honor to be able to shake your hand–but–since that will never happen, may I… Read more »
james
Guest

Great observations, William. Thanks for sharing them. What you state aptly describes what has happened to this country as well–and still the orthodox folks continue to acquiesce–in the church and in the nation. Do you think the orthodox folks will EVER learn?!?

A visit with you, over a cup of good hot coffee, would be a distinctly good thing………………………….

Wes Andrews
Guest

William, james, et al. There’s more to this. Traditionalists/orthodox people honor the rules. We play fair. We don’t deceive. Lying is against our value system. Progressives don’t have any rules the end justifies the means and they want power and control, not just over the church, the family but the government as well. Roe v. Wade was completely based on a lie. Most of their stands are based in deceptions. So they play dirty, including ignoring the BOD, and dishonoring all agreements.

Wes Andrews
Guest

True dat…..William. Prayers and Blessings for you Russ…. please the King of kings and don’t worry about the Bishop who “has no clothes…..”

emma smith
Guest

Don’t worry. I’ve decided not to join ANY denomination, especially in the United States. Most Christians would take the number and mark of the beast if you take away their air conditioning, credit cards, cable TV and most of all, FOOD! This is a fallen and evil nation now. Christians have for years PUSHED PEOPLE AWAY from God. Why should gays be any different from the rest of the population? If it wasn’t ‘hip, cool, and popular’ it wouldn’t even be an issue in USA churches.

Wes Andrews
Guest

Emma, thank you for working with the homeless! God loves them and works through you to show that love.

There are many Jesus focused churches in every town and city in the country. Most of these are not distracted by progressive attacks and the progressive rejection of the truth of Scripture. They just simply focus on proclaiming and living the Gospel. Most are not denominational churches. Please take time to seek one out. It matters to be in a vibrant community that can encourage you in your faith. Blessings to you.

Wes Andrews
Guest
Russ, all the denominations bought the idea that the academy is above accountability. And so more and more progressive teachers and staff filled all of our universities and seminaries. The delusion is that somehow academics shouldn’t be accountable to those who contribute to their institutions and salaries. As if the freedom of intellectual inquiry is incapable of doing harm or damage to those who support it. Sadly for decades the UMC among other denominations has no leadership nor discipleship culture. The systems have become bureaucracies that protect the institution while they leach the members, givers, clergy, etc. A common joke… Read more »
George Nixon Shuler
Guest

That’s an interesting concluding statement. I would have to say in this case the rules needed circumventing.

james
Guest
Russ and Wes: Many many many laypeople have felt the way you each “write” for a very very very long time. But, the clergy, because of the system that has been allowed to entrench itself in the umc, rarely–if ever–are/have been willing to take a stand with laity in order to make a move to even START to fix the breach–after all, a move to a bigger better congregation or a cushy seat on an important committee might be in the balance. And, the pulpit is a step higher than the floor of the sanctuary. The clergy who have gone… Read more »
Wes Andrews
Guest
james, find a church that honors the authority of Scripture, that is full of grace and which has a strong community with a discipleship culture. If you can find that in the UMC great, otherwise find it in another church and make disciples…… part of the problem with all of this is that this on going progressive siege saps the joy and energy out of following Jesus and distracts UMs from living and proclaiming the gospel. Reminds me of the Screwtape Letters. by C.S. Lewis. BTW, I agree with you about the clergy-class. While not all clergy act that way… Read more »
emma smith
Guest
I was looking for a new church. I work with a homeless program and the United Methodist Church here has been so supportive. I was thinking of joining because they have been so much more supportive, and quite frankly, so much nicer to me as a single female. My own congregation is dwindling greatly due to a large amount of large, middle-aged women with control issues pretty much running the church (and running people off in the process). The pastor is hardly ever there, which doesn’t help. He has another job and seems to prefer to spend time there. It… Read more »
Mark
Guest
Wes, agree with you completely. When you read and listen to the reasoning of these liberals it truly is reminiscent of Screwtape. You have to watch closely for the lie encapsulated in a facade of truth, the thorns hidden by the beauty of a rose. Regarding the clergy….so many disappointments! They lack backbone and are too worried about their jobs. I just spoke to a friend yesterday who attends an orthodox UMC church and he said his own pastor, who is an orthodox believer, is astounded at the crickets chirping from UMC bishops’ offices when clergy break sacred vows and… Read more »
Wes Andrews
Guest
The system was set up to protect clergy (and churches), but what it accomplished was a dependency, and a toleration of ineffective clergy. When a church finds out their clergy is not cut out to pastor or lead, the church complains and the clergy is eventually moved. I do believe there are many great clergy, but one ineffective clergy with a two or three year bad appointment can set a church backwards for years. And set up problems for the next appointed clergy. This system won’t change because it’s too bogged down with progressive distractions and ineffective Bishops and leaders.… Read more »
james
Guest
Russ and Wes: Many many many laypeople have felt the way you each “write” for a very very very long time. But, the clergy, because of the system that has been allowed to entrench itself in the umc, rarely–if ever–are/have been willing to take a stand with laity in order to make a move to even START to fix the breach–after all, a move to a bigger better congregation or a cushy seat on an important committee might be in the balance. And, the pulpit is a step higher than the floor of the sanctuary. The clergy who have gone… Read more »
MethodistPie
Guest

I see the refrocked is being appointed to a gig in Santa Barbara and will be attending a reception at the White House. I don’t think of myself as doctrinaire on this issue, but this sort of feels like salt-in-the-wound of the church.

Wes Andrews
Guest

MethodistPie, it’s be exploitative the entire time. He even had a book in the works. Has made probably more money on speaking engagements than his pastor’s salary. Pure capitalism at its worst…… he throw a brick shattering the stained glass of the UMC and calls it justice…. and like Hollywood progressives love to give each other awards and paydays….

George Nixon Shuler
Guest

In this case, if that is so, I believe Hollywood got it right.

Wes Andrews
Guest

I whole heartily agree Russ. It’s really time the Bishops and D.S.s should be listening and serving the local churches and actually taking their side in all this.

Mark
Guest
Even secular unbelievers would not put up with this in their organizations! They could justifiably look at this and say “their leaders cannot even keep their promises; their beliefs are capricious; why would I join any group, secular or religious, which has untrustworthy leaders and unstable beliefs?” How much more dysfunctional can it get? It never should have reached this point, and it never would have were it not for multiple failures in leadership. A de facto split in this denomination has already occurred, the only remaining task is figuring out how to divide up property and decreasing congregations.
dave werner
Guest

Mark, are you counting all the cost? In addition to property and congregations, there are things like missional witness and missions support, disaster response efforts, assets, pension and insurance considerations, probably financial support for central conferences, and other things. It seems a better course to me to focus on a future as a church together than to listen now to the siren song of division.

Mark
Guest

What has it cost us ALREADY? I know many people who have left the UMC because of liberal leaders substituting New Age theology/liberal politics for orthodoxy. They often do this covertly. Even secular institutions operate with more propriety!

james
Guest
It always comes down to dollars, rather than Good News, doesn’t it? Seems to me the money spigot should be turned off. Most $$$ from my pocket now go to a ministry in an eastern Europe country–all of which are used to build the Kingdom, not very left-leaning causes that subvert this country and the umc. Some of my $$$ go to the local church so that the lights can be kept on and a few “local” ministries be maintained. There are many folks who attend the umc on a regular basis who do the same thing. The phylacteries of… Read more »
Mark
Guest

James, I am afraid you are right. As we see the UMC mindlessly devolve into secularism it is sad to note that even secular institutions operate with more integrity. I am so tired of all the disingenuous arguments, covert maneuverings and downright lies from liberal leaders. Good News is essentially the only caucus operating with transparency and integrity, and liberals just throw mud at them in return. The world is truly upside down.

George Nixon Shuler
Guest

I’d like to view “Good News”‘s annual reports and 1099s to see how many other well-known far right extremists other than Richard Mellon Schaife are among their funders.

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