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Defrocked Methodist Minister Frank Schaefer To Appeal


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


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:


[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" »

Dallas Pastor Says He'll Defy Church Doctrine to Perform Gay Marriage Ceremonies: VIDEO


Rev. Bill McElvaney, a Methodist pastor who led the congregation at Northaven United Methodist Church  in Dallas for 40 years, is speaking out for marriage equality and says he'll officiate gay marriage ceremonies despite the church's directives against it, WFAA reports.

"I think we need to take this position. It is long overdue in the United Methodist Church...This is a justice matter, but it's not just an issue. It's about people; it's about people being loved and accepted, and about the church being what it's called to be."

McElvaney could lose both his pension and his credentials by officiating at marriages for gay couples.


Continue reading "Dallas Pastor Says He'll Defy Church Doctrine to Perform Gay Marriage Ceremonies: VIDEO" »

Another Methodist Clergyman Will Be Going To Trial For Officiating Son's Same-Sex Wedding

OgletreeFollowing the recent defrocking of Reverend Frank Schaefer and demands for reconsideration of church doctrine by some leaders, the United Methodist Church has charged yet another member of its clergy, Reverend Thomas Ogletree, for officiating at his own son's same-sex wedding. The act violates church law, which does not approve of same-sex marriage. Ogletree, a retired member of the church's New York district and former Dean of Yale's Divinity School, was informed of the charge via mail last week. He refused, like Schaefer before him, to promise never to officiate at a same-sex wedding again, and as such his trial, which will take place on March 10th, is moving forward.

The Associated Press reports:

"It is a shame that the church is choosing to prosecute me for this act of love, which is entirely in keeping with my ordination vows to 'seek peace, justice, and freedom for all people' and with Methodism's historic commitment to inclusive ministry embodied in its slogan 'open hearts, open minds, open doors,'" Ogletree said in a statement...

Bishop Martin McLee, who leads the New York Annual Conference, asked for prayers for all involved and noted church procedures allow for a negotiated settlement even after a trial starts. "It is my hope and prayer that a just resolution can be arrived at and a trial can be avoided," McLee said in a statement.

The Rev. Randall Paige of Christ Church UMC in Port Jefferson Station, N.Y., who led the clergy who filed the complaint, said, "we take no joy" in the charges against Ogletree.

Unlike other congregations, like the Evangelical Lutheran and Episcopal churches, the United Methodist Church has continually refused to alter church law regarding same-sex marriages. In the face of rapidly changing marriage laws throughout the United States, the church may need to rule on its own doctrine sooner rather than later. 

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.

Pennsylvania Pastor Defrocked After Performing Gay Son's Wedding, Offered New Job In California


We previously reported on the woes of Reverend Frank Schaefer who, after performing his gay son's wedding ceremony in 2007, ended up receiving a thirty-day suspension for breaking Methodist Church doctrine. Now the punishment has become more severe. After meeting with church officials on Thursday, Schaefer was told that would need to follow the Book of Discipline, or resign from his position at the church. Schaefer stated that the doctrine is discriminatory, and also that he would not willfully resign, according to an AP article. As such, church officials decided to defrock him.

Rev. Schaefer has now become an outspoken advocate for the LGBT community.

NBC Philadelphia reports:

"I cannot voluntarily surrender my credentials because I am a force now for many, for tens of thousands of LGBT members in our church," said the Rev. Frank Schaefer at a news conference Monday in Philadelphia...

"I cannot uphold the United Methodist Book of Discipline in its entirety," Schaefer said. 
"I just cannot. In fact, I dont' believe anyone can."

The minister says the Book of Discipline is filled with contradictory statements making it difficult for any clergymen to support all the competing ideas it describes.  

For Schaefer, the Methodist church laws that affect his gay son are the most challenging.

"In particular," he said, "I cannot uphold those discriminatory laws ...that are hurtful and harmful to our homosexual brothers and sisters in the church."

Now, Schaefer has received a job offer from his United Methodist brethren on the west coast. He has been invited to join the California-Pacific Annual Conference specifically based on his anti-discriminatory stance. Rev. Schaefer has said he is considering the offer, though according to a news report from Newsy, the official responsible for the job offer would be unable to reinstate his ministerial abilities.


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