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Reaction to UMC Move to Defrock Pastor: ‘Blessed are Those That Shun Their Sons?’

The United Methodist church officials have defrocked a Pennsylvania pastor who refused to adhere to a church disciplinary ruling that ordered that he no longer perform same-sex marriages.

Last month, Frank Schaefer was found guilty in a church court of violating the United Methodist Book of Discipline after presiding over the wedding of his gay son. At that time, he was ordered suspended for 30 days to think about his actions and consider if he could continue ministry within the current bounds of the UMC, which prohibits both same-sex unions and openly homosexual clergy.

“We as a Church need to stop judging people, stop treating people as second-class Christians, and that is going to be my message,” Schaefer responded to the court after hearing the sentence was announced. “I will minister to all people equally.”

On Dec. 16, just days before he was set to turn in his credentials, Schaefer gathered with a small group of supporters at a Philadelphia church to announce he could not, in good conscience, give up his credentials willingly.

“I cannot voluntarily surrender my credentials because I am a voice now for many — for tens of thousands — of LGBT members in our church,” he said, vowing to fight on for the right to minister without bias to all those seek the church.

Then on Dec. 19, Schaefer met with UMC officials, who ultimately decided to remove him from ministry for his unwillingness to adhere to current church law.

Immediately after Thursday’s decision, Schaefer did not comment further publicly, but many others raised their voice in support of the now defrocked pastor and his solidarity with the LGBT community.

“Today is a sad day in the life of The United Methodist Church,” Chett Pritchett, executive director of the Methodist Federation for Social Action (MFSA) said in response to the news.  “The United Methodist Church continues to say to lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and queer (LGBTQ) people and those who are in ministry with them that injustice rules the day.”

Many also took to social media to send notes of encouragement and support for Schaefer and his fight.

“Being a loving father makes you way more godly than the men who defrocked you,” Nikki Bizzoco tweeted.  Ben Dreyfuss responded to the decision by demanding of the UMC leadership, “Blessed are those that shun their sons?”

Photo Credit: Matt Rourke

About the author

Tamar is a New York based freelance writer and photographer whose work has appeared in over 15 publications. You can catch her work regularly on Issue Hawk, Latest, Jspace, and MediaGlobal.