United Methodist Church to Close After Dismissing Gay Choir Director

First United Methodist Church in Alexandria Indiana will close its doors at the end of 2014.

First United Methodist Church in Alexandria Indiana will close its doors at the end of 2014. Photo Google

First United Methodist Church in Alexandria Indiana will be closing its doors at the end of 2014. The closure is due in part to the loss of 80% of the congregation after the dismissal of the choir director, Adam Fraley, an openly gay man.

From the Herald Bulletin “Alexandria Church to Close at Year’s End”

David Steele, a former congregation member and lay leader for the church, said about 80 percent of the congregation left when Fraley wasn’t allowed to return to his position. Most of them, including Steele, have not been back since, he said.

Before leaving, Steele attended the church his entire life. His father, Clayton Steele, was minister of the church and at one time had a congregation of more than 700 people. He was saddened to hear that the church is shutting down.

The currently appointed pastor does not see the reason for closure in the same way.

David Mantor, pastor of the church, said the decision to close the church resulted from falling attendance, membership and financing problems. Mantor said statistics he’s seen from United Methodist Church headquarters show a “downward spiral” of membership and donations across the whole UM church for the past 30 years.

“This is a problem that’s going on everywhere,” Mantor said. “And that’s why we’re closing.”

The church will officially close Dec. 31. Dec. 28 will bring the final Sunday service for the church, which is home to about 20-30 members. Mantor said attendance fluctuates weekly.

The church made headlines last year when Mr. Fraley was fired from his position as choir director and Mr. Steele was removed as lay leader for the congregation.

From the LGBQT Nation in January of 2014 “Congregation walks out after church forces gay choir director to resign”

Fraley, who was previously married and has one daughter, told LGBTQ Nation the interim minister repeatedly questioned him about reconciling with his former wife, and made pointed observations about biblical values.

He said he eventually resigned after the interim minister kept adding to his workload above and beyond his responsibilities and duties as choir director, and because the added workload was interfering with his full-time job as a public school teacher.

Steele, who served as the chief lay leader and member of the committee that selects church workers ranging from choir director to janitor, said that he later pushed the church’s new pastor, David Mantor, to re-hire Fraley, but that Mantor eventually refused, citing Fraley’s sexual orientation.
He said he was subsequently asked to resign his position in church leadership, and when he refused, he was relieved him of his duties.

Steele said he was informed by Michelle Cobb, District Superintendent for the United Methodist Conference, that his services would not be needed because he neglected his duties as a lay leader by not supporting the pastor’s decision regarding Fraley.

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46 Comments on "United Methodist Church to Close After Dismissing Gay Choir Director"

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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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marvyn n. benaning
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read the story with keen interest. the church should not be shut down.

marvyn n. benaning
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good to read the issues behind such unnecessary church closure

marvyn n. benaning
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good to read umr

CAROL L WADSWORTH
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The First United Methodist Church Alexandria
My Name is Carol Wadsworth here in pa just to let you know
all of you are Prayed for with respect and we understand that no Churches want Gay people but we are all hopping for the Best for all the Gay people
and we are also Praying for all of you as well with respect so and hope that you are doing the same for all of us as well but I know that there is a place
just for gay people and we do Care very much
Prayerfully
From Grove United Methodist Church and Carol Wadsworth

Bruce Davis
Guest

Given the dueling narratives, I’d wager the presenting issue was an outward and visible sign of an inward and spiritual congregational sickness. There often reasons that small churches are small, and this one would seem to have been “small” in more ways than one. Some of the laity seem proud of themselves for destroying their congregation. I don’t see anything to be proud of.

Thom Kohl
Guest

In my experience, each UMC conference decides what information they will make available on the Internet, but usually some level of data is posted. It is quite often difficult to locate and not well publicized on the conference websites. I usually find it using Google searches. This link to the data in Indiana was one of the most detailed I’ve found. Not likely to find this level of detail in other conferences – but you might.

Mark
Guest
In my experience Christians who like to keep their own pet sins let others keep theirs……..I have personally been at least 8 Church splits and was there until the very end of the closing of a few. The first one was when a Pastor was exposed as an adulterer and the Owner/Head Pastor did not want him to step down. Three Good Churches came out of that one big one………”The Bible states that Homosexuality is Sin. Now this isn’t the end of the world. Sin comes in so many forms and is so frequent that even the pope confesses his… Read more »
Gary Bebop
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Wow! What a kettle of red herrings we have here in this article.

George Nixon Shuler
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Can you name them?

David
Guest
Vital signs says that in 2013 the attendance was 60 from January to the end of October. Not sure when the choir director was fired (or let go), but it looks like there was a drop not soon after that. Since then the attendance (according to VitalSigns) is 25 (http://vitalsigns.trendsendapp.com/). Perhaps not an 80% loss, still not good though. Looks like the giving when from an average of $1300 last year, to $500 this year. Also, from this article, it says the choir director resigned because the pastor was giving him too much work. On a side note, why don’t… Read more »
gayle Basten
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Shame on the heretics who preach against Jesus’ commandment to love one another!

Wes Andrews
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I agree with you gayle. We should all follow Jesus and trust in the authority of Scripture.

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