Methodist Federation for Social Action and the Institute on Religion & Democracy weigh in on Schaefer decision

UMR has extensively covered the conversation revolving around Frank Schaefer’s ministerial status. This week’s decision by the UMC’s judicial council to uphold the NE Jurisdiction’s Committee on Appeals decision to reinstate Schaefer brought quick response from many corners. Here are two, in the order received by UMR:

From the Methodist Federation for Social Action:

WASHINGTON, D.C.: October 27, 2014- In a decision released this morning, the Judicial Council of The United Methodist Church (UMC) has upheld the decision of the Committee on Appeals and Rev. Frank Schaefer will no longer have to fight for his ministerial status. In November 2013, a trial court of the Eastern Pennsylvania Conference of the UMC found Rev. Frank Schaefer guilty of officiating the marriage of his son, Tim, to another man in 2006. The penalty assessed to Rev. Schaefer, eventually leading to the loss of ministerial credentials, was indirect and convoluted. Earlier this year, upon appeal, the Committee on Appeals of the Northeastern Jurisdiction of The United Methodist Church overturned the penalty assessed in the original trial. Last week in Memphis, TN, The United Methodist Church’s highest judicial body, Judicial Council, heard a final appeal.

“At a time when the Church stands as a painful reminder that human institutions are more concerned with legalisms than with grace, the Judicial Council has upheld the errors of a process based on retribution,” states Chett Pritchett, Executive Director of the Methodist Federation for Social Action (MFSA). “The Methodist Federation for Social Action thanks the Judicial Council for their thoughtful and prayerful deliberation We celebrate with the Schaefer family with this resolution – and all United Methodist families who seek to love their children, no matter their sexual orientation or gender identity.”

“I couldn’t be happier for Frank and his family with this result, but more importantly, this process has only served to strengthen the resolve of this movement,” remarks Kevin Nelson, board member of MFSA. “No amount of persecution disguised as “discipline” will turn back the love of God; it always finds a way to break through.” Nelson served as assistant to Schaefer’s counsel, Rev. Scott Campbell, in both appeals.

“It is important for us to recognize that the case of The United Methodist Church v. Schaefer isn’t the beginning or the end of the work for LGBTQ inclusion,” Pritchett reminds. “Indeed it is but a moment in an arc of a great movement for reform – in fact, it comes as no surprise to me that this announcement comes on the heels of Reformation Sunday, a day which Protestant churches celebrate the great Christian reformer, Martin Luther, and his call for institutional transformation almost five centuries ago. It is my prayer that faithful United Methodists continue to seek justice for their LGBTQ siblings in that transformational spirit.”

Since 1907, the Methodist Federation for Social Action has worked to mobilize, lead, and sustain a progressive movement, energizing people to be agents of God’s justice, peace, and reconciliation. As an independent, faith-based organization, MFSA leads both Church and society on issues of peace, poverty, people’s rights, progressive issues, and justice within The United Methodist Church.

 

John-Lomperis-webpic_newFrom the Institute on Religion & Democracy:

WASHINGTON, D.C.: The United Methodist Church’s “supreme court,” its Judicial Council, has just affirmed the re-instatement of Frank Schaefer, an Eastern Pennsylvania pastor who was defrocked in a church trial last year for performing a same-sex union service.

This highly technical decision hinged on obscure details of church law and the precise semantics of how Schaefer’s penalty was worded. It indicates that Schaefer could have been defrocked if only the penalty’s exact wording “had been differently constructed.”

IRD’s United Methodist Action Director John Lomperis commented:

“It is disappointing to see Schaefer escape accountability, based on the Judicial Council’s uncritical acceptance of some very flawed arguments of his legal team. This will certainly undermine trust in the Council as well as in our bishops, who nominated most of its members.

“This episode follows a long pattern of conservative United Methodists bending over backwards to be gracious to church-killing radicals, while the latter cynically abuse the grace they are offered to selfishly hurt the church. Now the Judicial Council’s effective message for future trial courts is: to hold out-of-control clergy accountable, you should be as punitive as possible, not creatively offering them a second chance, as Schaefer’s penalty did. And avoid delegating implementation of the penalty to another body. 

“But this single case does NOT change our denomination’s basic standards. The United Methodist Church still officially affirms God’s compassionate, biblical boundaries for sexual self-control and makes our clergy liable for punishment if they personally violate them or bless same-sex unions. This ruling does not protect United Methodist clergy put on trial in the future for blessing same-sex unions, but may help make effective punishment more likely.

“Schaefer has moved to a dying, radicalized California region of the church. He pursued a cynical, any-means-necessary strategy, even to the point of blatant dishonesty, to selfishly impose as much damage on the church as possible, after already devastating his former congregation. Today, his supporters will celebrate their “victory” over accountability, Scripture, and the growing majority of other United Methodists. But the future of our denomination belongs to an increasingly global, biblically faithful majority whose ministries offer far greater hope to ALL people, including same-sex-attracted individuals, than the divisive tactics, public grandstanding, and secularized worldview of a vocally disruptive minority.”

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Press Releases

The United Methodist Reporter receives press releases on a regular basis from UM related agencies announcing events and other programs. We are providing them unedited as a service to UMR readers.

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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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jamesWes AndrewsGeorge Nioxn ShukerRev. Dr. James BallardElaine T. Recent comment authors
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james
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james

please explain–anybody–what all of this “veiled and unfriendly and mean” debate accomplishes. the rhetoric is at a stand-still. the umc that Wesley was inspired to establish is GONE–and has been for a very, very, long time. folks who need/crying to hear about Preveniet–Justifying–Sanctifying GRACE are getting lost in the shuffle. Father/Son/Holy Spirit weeps…………………..

james
Guest
james

mr/rev(?) shuler is the libs/progs very sarcastic/adept/pouncing spokesman. his comments all the more indicate that there is absolutely no hope for the umc coming together in the Light of Father/Son/Holy Spirit’s Love. please, let the denomination move along in its split……………..

George Nixon Shuler
Guest

I would not object if the fundamentalists within the UMC sever ties and form their own church body. However we will always have “open hearts, open minds, and open doors” for the Children of God they reject. “The stone the builders rejected has become the cornerstone.”

George Nixon Shuler
Guest

BTW, I’m just one guy. I’ve been excessively gentle in the spirit the host here seeks. Even you are welcome in my UMC church. An elderly lesbian couple I know, together over 50 years, a church organist and a lay servant, were rejected by a Presbyterian Church and told, “Go to the Methodists, they take everybody.” We did.

George Nioxn Shuker
Guest

Gentle rhetoric does not include sugsrcoating the facts.

Rev. Dr. James Ballard
Guest

It seems like everyone on any side of this is striving to proclaim this as a win for some constituency. The LBGTQ constituency is celebrating in the streets and this decision by the Judicial Council is going to embolden them to push forward with gusto. The Evangelical / Conservative are telling their constituency that the decision was based on a technicality and that will be more careful in the future on how sentences are handled. “Just hold on, the decision of the Judicial Council decision doesn’t change who we are as United Methodist.” Yes, “Good News”, this does change who… Read more »

George Nixon Shuler
Guest

Invalid. Jesus broke the OT law picking grapes on the Sabbath. We are not a fundamentalist church. We recognize justice and mercy as superior to shoddy reasoning.

Jayne
Guest
Jayne

From all the comments posted thus far, it seems that this whole thing is a love / hate of people who believe one way or the other. I’m wondering why the UMC is not using the BIBLE as it’s discipline. The way I understand the BOD, UM ministers are not permitted to perform marriages between two people of the same sex. The scriptures are very clear on this matter. God considers it an abomination for two of the same sex do things together as a man and woman. Sin does, and has abounded in this world since Adam and Eve… Read more »

George Nixon Shuler
Guest

It’s a great day for United Methodism. Rather than walk in ill-conceived devotion to hatred, we are taking baby steps toward ending oppression.

George Nixon Shuler
Guest

No matter how you slice it, the bible is not something to be cherry-picked to justify your prejudices. Jesus never said one thing about homosexuality at all, at least as far as the chroniclers tell, and, if he had, you would think it would have made it into print. Better to look in the mirror than out the window.

Elaine T.
Guest
Elaine T.

I guess if Jesus never spoke about something that means it is ok. Jesus never spoke about individuals who want to have sex with children and we know that they claim that they were born that way and are oppressed. Spousal abuse, slavery, child labor, and lots of other things were not mentioned either.. And he never mentioned the problem we have today that causes more deaths than heart disease, cancer and accidents all combined together…..abortion!

George Nioxn Shuker
Guest

the United Methodist policy wrt abortion does not label it sinful although it discourages it. That’s okay. One can easily oppose abortion while recognizing criminaiizing it presents the greater evil.

Wes Andrews
Guest
Wes Andrews

So, we should go and make a list of all the behaviors that Jesus doesn’t mention, like incest, and those become permissible. Somehow this logic seems completely disingenuous. Those who trust in the authority of Scripture aren’t cherry picking, but it looks like you, George, are accepting and rejecting Scripture willy nilly to create your own truth which somehow seems opposite of setting people free.

George Nixon Shuler
Guest

Wrong. People back then didn’t even know what “homosexuality” was. The word was not invented until the 19th Century. Keep grasping at those straws; it’s all you have to support your discredited position.

Wes Andrews
Guest
Wes Andrews

Your assertion that “people didn’t know what homosexuality was” is absurd, George. You must be reading history redacted to fit the progressive narrative, rather than more objective history that truly reveals the facts.

George Nixon Shuler
Guest

Objective facts clearly state homosexuality was not identified as a sexual orientation prior to Kraft-Ebbing’s research in the 19th century.

Wes Andrews
Guest
Wes Andrews

George you said “homosexuality” not “homosexual orientation”. I (and every human being) was born with a sin-orientation. Many if not most men are born with an orientation to pursue women sexually outside marriage. Many people have an orientation to mislead, to compete, to covet. Orientation is NOT the trump card that requires everyone to automatically endorse behavior. Just because a person might be born with an orientation doesn’t mean that this is God’s intention for their life, or that their later desires based on that orientation are within God’s will.

George Nioxn Shuker
Guest

homosexuality and homosexual orientation is the same thing. I is not in and of itself sinful at all.

Wes Andrews
Guest
Wes Andrews

Anything other than one woman plus one man is outside of the definition of Biblical marriage. So George, please use Scripture to support your claim.

George Nixon Shuler
Guest

Objective facts clearly state homosexuality was not identified as a sexual orientation prior to Kraft-Ebbing’s research in the 19th century.

Rev. Thomas l. Shanklin
Guest

VILE. The way Christians are treating each other is nothing but VILE. No wonder people avoid churches like the EBOLA plague. Jesus and love is more easily found outside the church than within!!!

Gary Bebop
Guest
Gary Bebop

Good News has patiently made the case for Disciplinary fidelity over a long period of time. Their arguments have been set forth fastidiously with generous concerns for the opposing side. But to no avail. Never a nod of understanding from the hegemonic elites who compose the script for the church. There is an “air of inevitability” about this whole matter. Hearts are hardened and twilight is coming.

Lynn Beach
Guest
Lynn Beach

This is very disappointing news. I thought the UMC judicial council would do what is right, what is biblical but instead went on technicalities? I know many folks that will be leaving the UMC due to this decision, people that wrote and expressed their concerns to as many “high ups” as they could but apparently that doesn’t matter to anyone either. Very sad day indeed!!

Kevin
Guest
Kevin

Let that be a lesson. When punishment is imposed do not allow any time for reflection and repentance. Lower the boom and be done with it.

Elaine T.
Guest
Elaine T.

The sad thing is the average lay person, who doesn’t spend a lot of time getting into all the details, will perceive this as an affirmation of Schafer’s point of view. Through this whole debacle he has be able to be successful at bringing more people into churches. The only problem is that it hasn’t been United Methodist churches. There have been increases in the independent churches. Since they feel betrayed by the UMC leaders these people have chosen to be involved in churches that have less hierarchy. Others are attending other denominations that stand firm on biblical authority.

George Nixon Shuler
Guest

The conventional wisdom among the right wing that people leave churches because they aren’t right wing enough to go join churches that are is not verified by social science research. Instead, most who leave wind up not going to any church at all.

Elaine T.
Guest
Elaine T.

Please direct me to your social science research. How many of your labeled “Right wing” persons have you spoken to find their reasons for leaving? My science comes from experience. I have good friends in an UM church that has lost close to 100 people (Which represents 2/3 to 3/4 of the congregation.) and it is these individuals, I know personally, who gave me their reasons for leaving. I don’t know of any who have chosen not to go to another church. One person I know did have her membership removed from the church but continues to attend the church.

George Nixon Shuler
Guest

That’s called “anecdotal evidence.” It is neither valid nor reliable.

Elaine T.
Guest
Elaine T.

You did not give me a reference for your social science research so that I could verify it, so all I’m left with is your anecdotal evidence that is neither valid nor reliable. But what is research but a collection of ‘anecdotal evidences” maybe some others who share here could share some numbers of people leaving that they know.

George Nixon Shuler
Guest

Scientific studies are valid because the are comprised of reliable demographic participants. Friend of a friend stories are not.

Wes Andrews
Guest
Wes Andrews

George, respectfully you have yet to back up any statement you have made in these conversations, and you ridicule others efforts to back up theirs.

George Nioxn Shuker
Guest

Research does not justify criminalizing abortion. It occurs at the same rate whether criminaiizing it is enacted or not.

Wes Andrews
Guest
Wes Andrews

George, your statement seem to have no connection with the facts. Abortion takes a human life. Thankfully more and more people are recognizing the greatest lie of the past several generations. Abortion is the real war on women.

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