The Washington Post’s Michelle Boorstein demonstrates the conflict and challenge Bishop Peggy A. Johnson of the Eastern Pennsylvania and Peninsula-Deleware Conferences is facing concerning the suspension of The Rev, Frank Schaefer, who presided at his son’s same-sex wedding. From her article:
Schaefer’s bishop released a statement Monday that seemed empathetic to Schaefer’s characterization of the Book of Discipline.
“Several statements in our Book of Discipline are discriminatory (forbidding ordination of homosexual persons, forbidding the performing of same-gender marriages and considering the practice of homosexuality incompatible with Christian teaching). There appear to be contradictions between the many affirming statements (mentioned earlier) and these statements. This has led to confusion by many from the outside of the church wondering how we can talk out of two sides of our mouth,”
Later, she posted a revised statement statement on her blog:
“Several statements in our Book of Discipline may seem discriminatory if construed as prohibitions against persons rather than practices that the church has found objectionable. Some may see these prohibitions as contradictory to the many affirming statements about the rights and sanctity of all people. The Discipline is intended to be clear and fair, although admittedly, it is not a perfect document.”
The second statement also changed the language around her views on church trials. The statement said:
“Church trials around the chargeable offenses that relate to the LGTB community are not helpful. They use time, resources, and energy that could be better used for the ministry of the church. I will continue to try in every way, as far as it depends on me, to not have church trials.”
On her blog Johnson wrote essentially the same thing, but added this final clause: “but as a bishop of the church, I must uphold my vow to follow the due process mandated by our Book of Discipline.”
That post was removed Tuesday, with the Bishop office expressing her regret with the revised version, letting her first version stand.
Links to the two versions, along with Rev. Schaefer’s reaction, can be found in Boorstein’s article.