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Methodist Church High Court Upholds Defrocked Pro-gay Pastor Frank Schaefer's Reinstatement

Schaefer

The Judicial Council of the United Methodist Church has upheld an appeals panel ruling reinstating pastor Frank Schaefer, who was defrocked last year for officiating at his son's wedding to another man back in 2007. 

Said Schaefer, via GLAAD:

Today, we are witnessing a small, but significant step toward taking another look at the exclusionary policies of the United Methodist Church. With its decision to validate my reinstatement, the Judicial Council has acted justly and wisely. Their decision signals hope to our LGBTQ community that has not always seen the rule of love and grace winning over the letter of the archaic law the church still subscribes to. Today’s decision also signals a willingness to continue dialogue and to seek solutions that will hopefully lead to a change in these archaic and harmful policies. The UM Church needs to find a way toward reconciliation, full inclusion of our LGBTQ community and an open altar for all God’s beloved children.

I will continue the fight alongside thousands of others in the reconciling movement for full inclusion and an open altar for all. I know the day is coming when this dream will be reality and I don’t think it is that far in the future.

The Methodist Church's Book of Discipline continues to call homosexuality "incompatible with Christian teachings" and bars clergy from performing same-sex unions. 


Methodist Church's Highest Court to Hear Case of Defrocked Pro-gay Pastor Frank Schaefer

Schaefer

When we last reported on Methodist pastor Frank Schaefer back in June, Schaefer - who was defrocked last year for officiating at his son Tim’s wedding to another man in 2007 - had been reinstated by an appeals panel.

That decision, however, was appealed to the Judicial Council, the church's highest court, which has announced it will hear oral arguments in the case October 22, the Associated Press reports:

The Rev. Christopher Fisher, who served as the church’s prosecutor at Schaefer’s trial, then appealed to the high court.

The Judicial Council has the final word on the matter. No decision is expected until several days after the council adjourns on Oct. 25.

Back in June after Schaefer was reinstated by the appeals panel, he wrote on his website:

“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.”


Dallas Methodist Pastor Commits Suicide To Make Statement About Homophobia, Racism, Social Injustice

A retired Methodist pastor committed suicide in Dallas on June 23rd to make a statement about racial injustice, homophobia and the death penalty, reports The Dallas Morning News.

Rev-charles-moore-327x388-1Reverend Charles Moore left a number of notes that cited as reasons for his suicide the Methodist Church’s refusal to marry same-sex couples, the death penalty and cuts to social programs.

Moore died in a strip-mall parking lot in Grand Saline, Texas, by self-immolation.  One suicide note suggests that the 75-year-old chose Grand Saline because he was troubled by his hometown’s history of prejudice he witnessed there as a boy.

In one of the notes, he wrote:

“I would much prefer to go on living and enjoy my beloved wife and grandchildren and others, but I have come to believe that only my self-immolation will get the attention of anybody and perhaps inspire some to higher service.”

Moore had a history of supporting equal rights. In the 1950s and 1960s he supported the civil rights movement. In 1995, he went on a hunger strike to protest the Methodist Church’s treatment of gays and lesbians.

However, although Moore had intended his act to be a grand gesture in the manner of Buddhist monks, his suicide drew little notice, notes The Dallas News:

“A report in the Grand Saline Sun described him as an elderly man who seemed troubled. An article in the Tyler Morning Telegraph asked if he was a ‘madman or a martyr.’”


Methodist Pastor Frank Schaefer, Defrocked For Presiding At Son’s Gay Wedding, Reinstated Following Appeal - VIDEO

Schaefer

Methodist pastor Frank Schaefer, who was defrocked last year for officiating at his son Tim’s gay wedding in 2007, has been reinstated after winning an appeal.

Until his defrocking, Mr Schaefer had been the pastor of Zion United Methodist Church of Iona in Lebanon, Pennsylvania.

A United Methodist Church appeals committee deemed the defrocking of Schaefer, who is the father of three gay children, to be an illegitimate effort to punish the pastor for his refusal to promise not to preside at another same-sex wedding.

Although the appeals panel did not question Mr. Schaefer’s guilt and upheld a 30-day suspension as punishment for violations of church law, it ruled that defrocking was wrong because “clergy can only be punished for what they have been convicted of doing in the past, not for what they may or may not do in the future.” The panel also decided that Schaefer should get back pay dating to when the suspension ended in December.

Speaking to The New York Times, Schaefer said that the committee’s decision sends a clear message that “change is on the way.”  

On his website, he 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.”

However, according to Reverend Rob Renfroe, president of Good News, a United Methodist organization that opposes gay marriage:

“When we have people who are not only disobedient, but who find a way to not have to keep the covenant they have made with the rest of the church, it helps us see that maybe we are so different that we’ve come to the end of the road together.”

Schaefer will resume his pastoral work next month with Isla Vista Student Ministry in Santa Barbara, California.

Watch Schaefer speak about his reinstatement, AFTER THE JUMP...

Continue reading "Methodist Pastor Frank Schaefer, Defrocked For Presiding At Son’s Gay Wedding, Reinstated Following Appeal - VIDEO" »


Defrocked Methodist Minister Frank Schaefer To Appeal

Frank_schaefer

Frank Schaefer, the former Methodist reverend who was defrocked after performing his son’s gay wedding, has successfully filed for an appeal which will take place on June 20. The Washington Post reports that according to Jen Ihlo, president of the Committee on Appeals for the United Methodist Church’s Northeast Jurisdiction, “The decision to hear his appeal is procedural and doesn’t indicate the committee’s chances of approving it.”

Furthermore: ”The appeals committee has nine members – some clergy, some not – and none can come from Schaefer’s region around Philadelphia. The committee, Ihlo wrote, will consider two questions: Whether the evidence supports a conviction and whether there is a conflict between the conviction and penalty and “errors of Church law.”

Last December, the California-Pacific Annual Methodist Conference offered Schaefer a job because of his anti-discrimination stance, but stated that they would not be able to reinstate his ministerial abilities. Currently, four other Presbyterian pastors are facing church trials for officiating same-sex weddings as well.


Methodists Drop Case Against NY Minister Who Officiated Gay Son's Marriage: VIDEO

Ogletree

The United Methodist Church will not pursue a case against a retired minister who officiated his gay son's wedding, a Bishop in the church announced at a news conference yesterday at which he also called on the church to drop similar cases, the AP reports:

McleeThe Rev. Thomas Ogletree, 80, a former dean of the Yale Divinity School, said he's grateful his church had decided not to put him on trial for what he called "an act of pastoral faithfulness and fatherly love."

"There's no talk of guilt or wrongdoing or any penalty. It's just the case goes away, which is a vindication for Tom," Ogletree's spokesperson Dorothy Benz told WCBS 880 Connecticut Bureau Chief Fran Schneidau.

Bishop Martin McLee, who made the announcement at a news conference, called on church officials to stop prosecuting other pastors for marrying same-sex couples. McLee, who leads the church's New York district, said he would cease trials over the issue in his area and would organize a broad discussion about divisions among Methodists over gay relationships.

Ogletree married his son on October 20 at the Yale Club in NYC. The charges against him were announced in January.

Watch clips from the press conference with McLee and Ogletree, AFTER THE JUMP...

Rev. Dr. Randy Paige, Senior Pastor, Christ Church United Methodist Church in Port Jefferson Station, New York, who was one of two clergy who filed charges against Ogletree for performing the wedding, released a statement after the case was dropped.

PaigeHe's very angry:

A STATEMENT OF THE COMPLAINANTS

[Rev. Roy E. Jacobsen, Retired, one of the complainants in this case, is away from email and phone and could not be reached this afternoon. I am issuing the following statement because it is important to report the perspective of the complainants. I am confident I have Rev. Jacobsen’s trust in expressing our mutual response. ]

10 March, 2014

As one of the complainants in the case of the Rev. Dr. Thomas Ogletree, I am dismayed by the settlement announced today in averting a trial for Dr. Ogletree’s violation of the Book of Discipline in performing a same-sex ceremony for his son.

The settlement agreed to is not, in our minds, a “just resolution” of our complaint. It makes no acknowledgement of the breaking of our clergy covenant, the clear teaching of Scripture, and our agreed upon way of discipleship expressed in our Book of Discipline. There are no consequences for such violation. It fails to recognize the harm done to our church members, who are seeking to live faithfully by teachings of the church for the last 2,000 years. And it fails to prevent further breaking of our covenant by other clergy in our annual conference.

I am disturbed that this settlement appears to represent a determination on the part of the New York Annual Conference leaders that they will no longer enforce or uphold the Discipline on this matter. While dialog and deep listening are good, they are no substitute for living up to the vows of obedience we took as United Methodist clergy, even when we disagree with the provisions we are asked to obey. Bishop McLee’s commitment to have no more trials for those accused of performing same-sex services means that numerous complaints that are in process will be held in abeyance, and further complaints will be discouraged.

The impact of this settlement today will be that faithful United Methodists who support the church’s teachings will feel ignored and will face their own crisis of conscience, as to whether they can continue to support a church that will not abide by its own rules. In addition, clergy in the New York Annual Conference and other like-minded annual conferences, are now given a green light to disobey the Discipline and perform same-sex services at will, without any consequences. Far from avoiding schism, today’s settlement increases the probability that schism will take place. For all these reasons, I cannot support this settlement.

Continue reading "Methodists Drop Case Against NY Minister Who Officiated Gay Son's Marriage: VIDEO" »


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