UM clergy Frank Schaefer’s “Defrocked” released today by Chalice Press

Defrocked cover finalST LOUIS, Mo: Today is the official release by Chalice Press of UM clergy Frank Schaefer’s book “Defrocked.” Due to the continuing attention around the UMC community on this polarizing subject, UMR is posting an exclusive book excerpt and a UMR editor will separately review Schaefer’s book in the coming weeks.

This excerpt comes from chapter 23, “The Aftermath”:

 As ministers, we hold our membership in The United Methodist Church through our membership as clergy in the conference. We don’t have a membership in any local church. So when the church defrocked me, it also ended my membership in the church. I had been de facto “excommunicated.” I found myself without a faith community for the first time in my life.

On December 22, just three days after I was defrocked, Brigitte and I joined the Foundry United Methodist Church in Washington, D.C., along with our sons Kevin and Pascal. On first blush, this might not seem to make sense. Why would anybody rejoin an organization that had just kicked him out?

However, it was important to me to rejoin The United Methodist Church because I had made a commitment, especially to the LGBT community within the church, and I wanted them to know, “I’m not leaving. I will continue to speak from within the church.”

A day after I was defrocked, Rev. Dean Snyder, the pastor at Foundry, who was a great supporter and friend throughout my trial, contacted me and invited me to come to D.C. the next Sunday. He said, “Why don’t you plan on preaching, Frank? I think we need to hear a word from you. And I think you need to be among United Methodist friends.”

I was touched by his offer and accepted. Foundry United Methodist Church has been a beacon of hope in our denomination for many years, and it is well known for its LGBT advocacy. I remember thinking, “I would not mind being a member of Foundry.”

A couple of days later I called Dean back and said, “What do you think about our family joining Foundry this Sunday?”

He said, “I love it!”

I’m really glad we did this. Foundry actually live-streamed the entire service. And it was widely covered by the United Methodist news agencies in addition to some Washington media outlets. So I had the honor of speaking that Sunday, and my message to all United Methodists was, “If you’re thinking about leaving the Methodist Church, don’t. Because we need you. We need you in our fight. We need you to help us change the Discipline, to get rid of the discriminatory and exclusionary laws.”

I continued, “I sincerely believe that we as United Methodists have been taken captive. We have been living in homophobic captivity since 1972, the year homophobic language was first introduced into the Book of Discipline. This is not us. We’re not homophobic people. We have always been proud of being a diverse people. We are an inclusive, not an exclusive, people.”

I continued sharing about how the church’s founder, John Wesley, had sought to include everybody in the then fledgling Methodist movement, how he went to the street corners and even into the prison system.

And let’s not forget Wesley’s three simple rules for living: “Do no harm, do good, and stay in love with God.”

That’s who we are as United Methodists—God-loving people who do good, not people who do harm.

Foundry supported us in so many ways, even financially. The congregation took a love offering for us and made an appeal on the Internet for other churches and individuals to join in this effort. So when I returned to Foundry for a special service together with Jimmy Creech and Beth Stroud on January 31, 2014, they presented us with a check for over $31,000, as a love offering.

That’s a message in and of itself. The leadership of The United Methodist Church defrocked me, and the true and faithful part of the church, the inclusive side, sent a message loud and clear: “God is not going to let you down if you stand up for what’s right. And we’re doing our part in supporting you.”

As Dean Snyder stated, “It is a statement to all progressive leaders in The United Methodist Church, which is saying: ‘Don’t beafraid to take risks for justice. God will not let you down. The church may threaten to take away your paycheck, but don’t let that intimidate you; there will be support for you and your family!’”

My conscience compelled me take a stand—to risk my career, my income, and my security without any guarantees, and I lost it all. But that’s not where the story ended. It’s been amazing to see how God has provided me and my family with everything we needed, even through The United Methodist Church.

 

This excerpt was submitted by Chalice Press; if you would like to submit a book excerpt for consideration, contact UMR at editor@circuitwritermedia.com. Submissions do not necessarily reflect the opinions of UMR or its staff. Chalice Press is currently an advertiser with UMR.

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4 Comments on "UM clergy Frank Schaefer’s “Defrocked” released today by Chalice Press"

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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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Brenda Smith
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I Corinthians 12:” There are different kinds of gifts but the same Spirit distributes them. There are suffering kinds of service, but the same Lord. There are different kinds of working, but in all of them and in everyone it is the same God at work.”
I met Frank this Summer and his love for the church and his family and all of us was a beautiful witness. Thank you Frank for “your” gifts and service and work. I’ll be buying this book, more than one copy!

Kevin
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Is this a great country or what? Frank is really cashing in on his celebrity status. Book, speaking tours and who knows? Maybe someday a reality show. A defrocked refrocked pastor with three gay children could make for riveting television.
Until I read this I had no idea I was living in homophobic captivity.
What is disappointing to me is that UMR is pushing this book which I believe will only lead to more polarization within The UMC.

Lawrence Bennett
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I had the honor to meet Rev. Schaefer earlier this summer and to listen to him speak. He has had quite a faith journey–I am looking forward to reading his book. We have much to learn from him and it is my prayer for us and the church that all may one day our minds and church doors will be open wider than they are now.

Rick
Guest

It doesn’t seem right for him to cash in on breaking his ordination vows.

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