Support the Café
Search our site

Methodists reinstate defrocked pastor

Methodists reinstate defrocked pastor

The United Methodist Church has reinstated the pastor who was defrocked for performing his son’s marriage to male partner. New York Times has the story:

A onetime Methodist pastor who was stripped of his clerical credentials because he presided at the wedding of his gay son is being reinstated, a startling reversal for a large Protestant denomination that, like many, is riven by divisions over same-sex relationships.

Defrockedfinal.jpeg

A United Methodist Church appeals committee — a nine-member panel made up of laypeople and clergy — said Tuesday that it had decided to overturn the punishment of Frank Schaefer, who with three gay children and a determination to celebrate their relationships has become an unexpected champion of gays and lesbians in church life. The panel deemed the punishment too harsh.

Mr. Schaefer, who had been the pastor of Zion United Methodist Church of Iona in Lebanon, Pa., was defrocked last year, six years after officiating at the same-sex wedding of his son. An all-clergy church court found him guilty of disobeying the denomination’s order and discipline.

Image from Chalice Press

Dislike (0)
0 0 vote
Article Rating
Facebooktwitterpinterestlinkedinmail

Café Comments?

Our comment policy requires that you use your real first and last names and provide an email address (your email will not be published). Comments that use non-PG rated language, include personal attacks, that are not provable as fact or that we deem in any way to be counter to our mission of fostering respectful dialogue will not be posted.

1 Comment
Newest
Oldest
Inline Feedbacks
View all comments
John Thomas

A victory for Rev. Schaefer, but he won the appeal on a technicality: The church trial court could not conditionally state Schaefer must promise not to conduct same-sex unions in the future. The appeals court ruled the penalty must relate to the violation of The Book of Discipline committed. Had the trial court imposed defrocking as the trial outcome, Schaefer would still be defrocked today.

To translate into Episcopal Church language, the best I can:

The trial court was at the diocesan level, the appeal at the provincial. UM bishops have very limited authority, they must address a formal complaint that canons were violated either by trial (where they appoint the prosecutor, but have no other role), or separately by dispute resolution between the accuser and accused with an outcome agreed by all.

The Book of Discipline (the national canons) is a convoluted document containing everything from the Articles of Religion, to the vows of deacons. The prohibition against conducting same-sex unions is not core doctrine, but it's an enforced prohibition. As in The Episcopal Church, elders and deacons vow to uphold the discipline of the church at ordination -- often United Methodists consider discipline to mean The Book of Discipline... but it's impossible to uphold The Book of Discipline to the letter (due to contradictions, certain parts are inapplicable in some regions, etc).

The homophobic language in the Book of Discipline remains, in part, due to the more rural nature of the UMC, powerful conservatives at IRD and Asbury Seminary (the UMC version of Natosha House), and the fact that The UMC is an international church: Imagine if Anglican dioceses in Africa were able to vote on church law that effected The Episcopal Church in the US-- That's how the UMC is organized. UMC numbers in the US are declining, while there's growth in Africa and elsewhere, so it's unlikely the homophobic policies will change by majority vote at General Conference (like General Convention).

Like (0)
Dislike (0)
Facebooktwitterrss
Support the Café
Past Posts
2020_001

The Episcopal Café seeks to be an independent voice, reporting and reflecting on the Episcopal Church and the Anglican tradition.  The Café is not a platform of advocacy, but it does aim to tell the story of the church from the perspective of Progressive Christianity.  Our collective sympathy, as the Café, lies with the project of widening the circle of inclusion within the church and empowering all the baptized for the role to which they have been called as followers of Christ.

The opinions expressed at the Café are those of individual contributors, and, unless otherwise noted, should not be interpreted as official statements of a parish, diocese or other organization. The art and articles that appear here remain the property of their creators.

All Content  © 2017 Episcopal Café