Perspectives on Schaefer case, same-sex debate, in United Methodist Church

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.

Read the statement.


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.”

Read the statement


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.”

Read the blog


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.

Read the blog


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.

Read the press release


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.

Watch the video 





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  1. John J. Shaffer

    What would I do if my one of my gay children came to me and asked me to officiate at their wedding? In general, I have told my relatives that I did not wish to be their pastor, so I could use that as my excuse. However, what if…

    I would not appreciate a church that said to me “follow the rules” when in fact, I am committed to following Jesus, who was clearly a rule breaker himself.

    Of course, he didn’t have to deal with the United Methodist Book of Discipline. All he had to deal with was the Hebrew Scriptures and TRADITION. You can find exclusion in the Hebrew Scriptures and you can find inclusion in the Hebrew Scriptures. I have always thought that there was some personal decision involved. But I guess that is not the case in United Methodism. We can let the rule book make our decisions. Personally I prefer the guidance of the Holy Spirit, but it is obvious that the rule book rules in United Methodism.

    Long ago I decided that I was would be pastoral if anyone asked me to bless their holy union. And then I thanked God that no one ever asked me. Could I be convicted for my convictions?

    I now Thank God for those who are challenging unjust rules and regulations, even when the so-called majority feels otherwise. What I don’t understand is that a majority of the laity in my circles agree with me. Could it be that those who favor justice and kindness and compassion are cowed into silence in some part of our church by those who scream “is it a sin” from the roof tops?

    I remember one delegate from Africa voting her conscience knowing that she would never be allowed to represent her church again. But she voted in favor of compassion even knowing what the results would be. Now that was a real “Profile in Courage”.

    1. David Lee Saunders

      Bishop John Schol criticized our church for removing Minister Schaefer’s credentials and so do you. I will agree with him on a few points. Firstly, having these trials and their outcome discussed on Network TV, before the ink is dry is problematic. This can be corrected. However, the central point is always, as a member of “the body of Christ” am I going to be obedient to the Word of God first, and second, to those who have been put in authority over me. All throughout the history and the establishment of the first century church and beyond, to now, issues of false doctrines have tested the faithful. The issue of sexual immorality is not new. Secondly, all people who seek deliverance and healing should find a home in the “church of the living God”, which the United Methodist Church is part of and is helping in the building of God’s Kingdom. Our experience with Christ should be transformative.
      The trend in our country is moving towards the recognition of same sex marriage in every state. God has instructed us to fight for the faith with spiritual power, put on the whole armor of God, because we are not fighting flesh and blood… but wickedness in the heavenly places (Eph 6: 10-13). As Christians, we have been instructed to render to Cesar the things that are Cesar’s (the government) and to render to God that which is God’s (Matt 22: 17-21). Sexual immorality and a host of other sins have been capsulized and established in law, in our country. These laws are “a world system of views”. We, as Christian(s) personally don’t participate in these systems.
      We however, follow those laws that do not attempt to usurp the sovereign authority of Yahweh in the believer’s life. We have been commander to stand fast. When the whole world says there is no God, we reply, “Yes there is”! When the world shouts, “let us married whomever we love” we reply with gentleness of spirit, “but God has forbidden man lying down with man and women with women”. Whose reports are we going to believe, God’s or men. It is our Christian calling to accept all who come to God, we are all broken. Nevertheless, we preach Christ, the solid rock. Come as you are, but be prepared to have a transformative encounter with Him.
      Lastly, Brother Pastor Schaefer, has with love, been given every opportunity to turn back to his high calling, and take his sanctified place as a used vessel for Christ. Either the Bible is inerrant and authoritative, or it is just another book with some good ideas. My church leaders with much prayer and meditation have followed the Book of Discipline, which is in agreement with the Word; the homosexual life style is incompatible with Christian teaching.

  2. SCoho

    It seems the complilation of news reports above is slanted in favor of homosexuality and same sex marrige. Frankly, all this banter is hot air, because the Lord’s plan will prevail.
    He is always righteous and merciful. We are all sinners saved by His blood bought gift of
    grace. We all, individually, will stand before the judgment seat of the living God. There will be no defense, nothing to say, as His judgement is true and righteous. May each one of us consider this reality.

  3. Michael Foy

    I still feel the only issue at hand is going against the Book of Discipline. The Book is clear and the consequences are clear. We Pastors must follow the Book that is our churches blueprint and not teach others it’s ok to disobey the Book of Discipline and get away with it. It soon would be other issues and more and more the Discipline would be ignored. With out a solid foundation the church would crumble, as would a building. There are proper ways to handle the matter and outside of that it is chaos.

  4. Sean

    Dear UMC Connections:

    I am continually disappointed with you in your coverage of the issue of homosexuality. You are clearly not providing a balanced perspective on this issue, and it appears to me that you approve of same-sex relationships by the in-proportionate amount of “coverage” of articles. There are so many conservative and bible believing Christians and you are not showing the wider range of debate and perspective!

    Shame on you! As you know, the majority of Methodists do not approve of same-sex marriage. So you are alienating many of your readers. One article linking to a video is not enough compared to the other 4 you posted.

  5. Creed Pogue

    Do you really believe that 80% of The UMC disagrees with the Schaefer verdict and the Discipline provisions that it was based upon?

    Or even 80% in the USA?

    Or even 80% of the laity in the Western Jurisdiction?

    “Reporting” like this is why Fox News and its viewers were shocked at the results of the 2012 election. You do not serve the interests of the laity in the pews who pay your salaries when you present such a distortion of opinion within The UMC. Much like the situation with the Tea Party, loudness and passion is not a substitute for actual public support.

  6. Dave

    Hey UMC, It’s Christmas! Let’s see some Christmas coverage. We’ve had way too much of the other perspectives this year already.

  7. Sarah Yates

    I would hope that the majority of methodists accept and love all people with open minds, open hearts, and open doors. I am a married, lesbian methodist and I am thankful to live in a community that with the love of God and Jesus, has come to love and support me too.

    I was at Foundry UMC yesterday when Rev. Frank Schaefer was there and never have I ever felt so accepted and love by the Methodist church. There can never be anything wrong with that. I do pray the Book of Discipline is changed. The methodist church teaches me to accept and love everyone and yet the book of discipline conflicts with that. It’s apparent that there are many pastors who are called into their service who feel the conflict of the book of discipline.

    I will continue to pray for this and pray that we remember love and tolerance moving forward.

  8. Phillip

    Hey… UMC Connections guys… are you really as big of idiots as you always come across in your reports. We (the majority of UM Pastors) still hold the Biblical view that homosexuality is NOT conducive to a Godly life (Just as any unconfessed sin is…) and the official stance of our church is still that same sex marriage is NOT condoned by our church. Shaffer is just the first of what we hope will be many clergy who are shown the door. TRY and let your reporting reflect the views of the denomination that you work for…

  9. Jack Howard

    Oh, that’s right, the rules apply to evryone except the UMC leftists. Typical!

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