A Coming Methodist Schism Over Marriage Equality?


Reverend Dean Snyder, a senior pastor of Foundry United Methodist Church — a Washington D.C. church commonly visited by sitting presidents — has told USA Today that Methodist Bishops should call a special General Conference to address the church's policies regarding same-sex weddings instead of waiting until the church's 2016 General Conference.

Snyder said, "Some of us believe this issue is critical enough to do that. There's more and more pressure from one side to enforce the rules and more and more pressure from the other side that thinks the rules are unjust and unloving…"

Snyder's comments came in regards to Frank Schaefer (pictured above), a former pastor who was recently defrocked for officiating his son's same-sex wedding in 2007. Currently, four other Presbyterian pastors are facing church trials for officiating same-sex weddings as well.

"…these trials are about enforcing obedience to just some of the rules of the church," [Snyder] said. "That draconian effort to force obedience to selected rules leaves a bad taste in people's mouths. Trials are counterproductive and we have to find other ways to negotiate our differences."

The denomination, the nation's second-largest Protestant group, accepts gay and lesbian members, but its Book of Discipline calls the practice of homosexuality "incompatible with Christian teaching" and bars clergy from performing same-sex unions.

Concurrently, Southern Californian Bishop Minerva Carcano invited Schaefer to join the church's California-Pacific Conference where he could continue serving the church, although not in a pastorial capacity. Also late last week, New Jersey area Bishop John Schol released a video asking the church to stop using trials to settle questions of faith and telling gays and lesbians that many Methodists support same-sex marriage. These trends could portend an approaching schism between pro and anti-gay Methodist church leaders.

Earlier this year, the US Presbyterian church experienced a schism over its decision not to ordain gay and lesbian ministers. Similarly in 2010, the Episcopalian and Anglican churches narrowly avoided a schism over the Episcopal church's ordination of gay clergy.

Snyder himself has officiated at least a dozen same-sex weddings and yet the Methodist church hasn't prosecuted him yet. One wonders why.


  1. unruly says

    @Matthew, you’ve got the names wrong. Frank Schaefer was the one covered by that article (who is no longer a valid Methodist minister.)

    Snyder is still a minister which is what the last sentence questions.

  2. Craig says

    My questions are if there’s only one god and one bible why are there so many religions? And who’s to say which is the correct one?

    Frankly I’m sticking with Dionysus as my one true god.

  3. Erik says

    LGBT rights have been argued within the United Methodist Church since at least the mid 80s. The UMC has a very democratic system of deciding doctrine and has evolved in the past 40 years.

  4. anon says

    Who cares what any church does in regards to marriage?! We aren’t fighting for the right to get married in the Methodist Church or any other church. We are fighting for the right to a marriage license issued by the state and recognized by the federal government. BIG difference.

  5. Sammy says

    @Anon, LGBT folks who subscribe to a particular religion have an interest in the workings of that religion. They should be fighting for thier rights within their chosen faiths.

  6. james st. james says

    Every time Christianity schisms and fractures the weaker they get. So I’m for more of it.

    Kinda puts the old “god says” routine into doubt. Apparently “god” can’t make its mind up.

  7. simon says

    Historically, a lot of time, disagreement led to schism. If you want to stay in that faith, why not split off as an United Methodist Rainbow Church. I am sure there is no religious patent. A lot of the religions nowadays stole their ideas from the Jews.

  8. bandanajack says

    what rob said, although arguments do not make official schism, which often entails property battles, further damaging the brand.

    the UNITED methodist church is well on its way to becoming the UNTIED methodist church. as was previously noted,this has been debated ad nauseum, and until the last general conference, the conservatives, mostly old white men and a few african bishops, were steadily losing ground to the more liberal wing of the church. and then the full weight of the african proselytizing made itself clear. and from then on, it was obvious that the balance had changed, probably permanently.

    the methodist church experienced schism at least once before, over slavery. that’s when the southern methodist church was born. that rift has been mainly mended, but much of the angst over homosexuality in the past was from the south, and southern churches remain very conservative and were the bulk of the disagreement until african representation began to flex its muscles. there has been a succession of ministers and bishops defrocked over this issue. there is now officially no chance there will be a change in church policy, therefore i predict a schism very soon.

  9. Daniel says

    As a kid, it did not matter what the state thought. What mattered was what my family, friends and God thought, a real struggle. Raised a Methodist, there was not a lot of discussion about Gay’s. They didn’t as a whole get into the Moral Majority thing. This is the problem when churches take anti Gay stances. People who are struggling with being Gay are just lost, mainly young people. If the Church splits, then so be it. The right wing of the Church have only themselves to blame.

  10. simon says

    They of course believe in only one God. Their only problem was summed up nicely by the gay president before he became one.
    They can always find a few passages in the scripture to justify their views. As Obama said:
    “If people find that (civil union) controversial then I would just refer them to the Sermon on the Mount, which I think is, in my mind, for my faith, more central than an obscure passage in Romans.”

  11. DB says

    I am praying that the United Methodist Church, the nation’s largest mainstream Christian Church, will quickly embrace full recognition of all Christian marriages without regards for sex, sexual orientation, or race. The Methodist Church divided over the issue of slavery in the 1840’s. That rift took over a century to heal. Let’s follow Christ’s teaching and embrace all loving families and maintain the unity of the Church.

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