The debate around same-gender weddings and human sexuality has heated up in The United Methodist Church after recent events including the defrocking of a pastor for performing the wedding of his gay son.
Frank Schaefer was found guilty in a Nov. 18-19 clergy trial in the denomination’s Eastern Pennsylvania Annual (regional) Conference for performing the 2007 same-sex wedding of his son. The conference board of ordained ministry met with Schaefer Dec. 19 and told him to surrender his clergy credentials. He has said he wants to remain in ministry and will appeal.
Schaefer’s clergy trial came a month after retired Bishop Melvin Talbert performed the wedding of two men in Alabama. The Council of Bishops, in its November meeting, directed that a complaint process be started against Talbert for violating the denomination’s rules.
In its Book of Discipline, The United Methodist Church officially states that marriage is a covenant between a man and a woman, and that the practice of homosexuality is “incompatible with Christian teaching.” It forbids same-gender weddings in its sanctuaries, and it bars clergy from performing them. The church also affirms that all people are of sacred worth, that all are in need of the church’s ministry, and that God’s grace is available to all. The church implores congregations and families not to reject gay and lesbian members and friends.
The recent events have sparked statements and blogs from individuals, congregations and groups around The United Methodist Church, including the following:
Korean-American leaders: Statement expressing ‘serious concerns’
The current and three previous presidents of The National Association of Korean United Methodist Churches/National Caucus released a statement Dec. 15 “to express serious concerns regarding the recent developments surrounding the issue of homosexuality in the denomination. Korean-American churches, the statement says, “can no longer remain as a silent observer of the situation.
Urban Village: ‘A statement of affirmation and dissent, toward a Gospel inclusive church’
CHICAGO (UMNS)—Urban Village, a United Methodist church plant, issued a statement Nov. 20 that it is “grateful to God that we are blessed with a community made of straight and LGBTQ people.” While affirming the denomination’s central theological beliefs and core mission, the church pastors say they dissent with its recent actions “because we are trying to be faithful to the Gospel of Jesus Christ in all things.”
Huffington Post blog: ‘Fear and power’ after Schaefer is defrocked
NEW YORK (UMNS) — “I have to confess. The day a jury in Eastern Pennsylvania found the Rev. Frank Schaefer guilty of violating the United Methodist Book of Discipline for performing a same-sex wedding, I felt fear,” writes the Rev. Vicki Flippin, associate pastor at The Church of the Village in New York, in a blog on Huffington Post. “You see, I and many other clergy in the United Methodist Church have also performed same-sex weddings, and we know very well that what happened to Rev. Schaefer could happen to us.”
B. Kevin Smalls blog: ‘This revolution will not be televised: Homosexuality, poverty and struggle in the United Methodist Church’
The Rev. B. Kevin Smalls addresses the challenge of doing ministry “in a world and in a church where division is thicker than ever before, and conflict is at an all-time high.” He addresses the struggles in church and society around race, sexuality and other social issues. “We should be where Jesus went and calls us to go,” he declares.
MFSA: ‘UMC inflicts more pain on LGBTQ members’
WASHINGTON (UMNS)— The Methodist Federation for Social Action, in a Dec. 19 statement, declared that Frank Schaefer’s defrocking “is a sad day in the life of The United Methodist Church.” The organization has worked to change The United Methodist Church’s policies on same-gender issues.
Good News: Leaders discuss Council of Bishops, Schaefer verdict
THE WOODLANDS, Texas (UMNS) — Good News President Rob Renfroe and Vice President Tom Lambrecht discuss recent developments in The United Methodist Church on the sexuality issue. “We are facing a situation where we need to determine who we are as a church and what we stand for, and if we can even stay together,” Lambrecht states. The Good News group supports the denomination’s position on homosexuality.