United Methodist Pastor Reinstated in Same-Sex Marriage Case

on June 24, 2014

Institute on Religion and Democracy Press Release
June 24, 2014
Contact:  Jeff Walton office: 202-682-4131, cell: 202-413-5639, e-mail: jwalton@TheIRD.org


“This announcement is both disappointing and entirely unsurprising.”
-UMAction Director John Lomperis


Washington, DC—A regional appeals committee of the United Methodist Church has reinstated the clergy credentials of a former pastor who was recently defrocked for performing a same-sex union ceremony. Frank Schaefer refused to henceforward respect the church’s policies forbidding such ceremonies. Schaefer’s Eastern Pennsylvania congregation experienced rapid decline and tumultuous division before his removal from the pulpit late last year.

IRD’s United Methodist Action Director John Lomperis commented:

“This announcement is both disappointing and entirely unsurprising.

“This result was a foregone conclusion, given how the appeals committee was a very unrepresentative, liberal-stacked group chaired by a lesbian activist. Committee members had agreed to the job of simply upholding our biblical standards, but instead abused their position to illegitimately impose their personal agendas on the church. Sadly, the increasingly Machiavellian liberal minority of our church has made displaying such a shameless lack of trustworthiness and integrity central to their overall strategy.

“It is beyond hypocritical for Mr. Schaefer and his supporters to profess concern with upholding our denomination’s standards as part of their integrity-lacking campaign to undermine our standards.

“Our church needs trustworthy, selfless pastors who are men and women of integrity and who will compassionately minister to ALL people in the redemptive way our tradition has always understood biblical Christian ministry. Mr. Schaefer has made clear his disagreement with the doctrinal standards our clergy vow to uphold, but rather than have the integrity to seek a church that would be a better fit, he and his supporters are rather selfishly seeking to force the rest of our global church to dramatically redefine our identity to conform to their more secularized beliefs. Or failing that, Mr. Schaefer is trying to at least cost our church as much damage as possible.

“This does not change our denomination’s biblical, Christian standards for sexual self-control. While very vocal, Mr. Schaefer and his supporters are only an unrepresentative minority of our global denomination. The UMC’s governing General Conferences have affirmed biblical standards for sexual self-control by growing majorities, and this is unlikely to change.

“This decision should be appealed to our denomination’s ‘supreme court,’ to Judicial Council, which should once again defrock this unfaithful pastor, as has happened before.”


  1. Comment by Nick Porter on June 24, 2014 at 5:42 pm

    Shameful and as John said, unsurprising. I wouldn’t want to be them on the day of judgment.

  2. Comment by Bobby Herring on June 24, 2014 at 6:53 pm

    This was definitely was not surprising. I guess our wonderful “faithful” leaders will be planning a Book of Discipline burning party next.

  3. Comment by Heddrick Steel on June 25, 2014 at 5:53 pm

    They have burned the book. They’re just waiting for others to catch up.

  4. Comment by John S. on June 25, 2014 at 7:11 am

    If you really want to see the UMC discipline a Pastor have him call for the nonpayment of apportionments. As one district committee on ordination said, connectedness in the UMC is apportionments. Once you get past the money issues (bottoms in the pews, apportionments, budgets, etc) the passion really seems to drop. Why don’t liberals want to split from the UMC? Look at the Episcopal Church, those who leave don’t get to keep the property, money, trusts.

  5. Comment by PadreDave on June 25, 2014 at 1:29 pm

    What a sad and sorry day! The appeal committee found a way to circumvent the clear intent of the Discipline that prohibits clergy from conducting same sex “marriages,” blessing such “unions,” or permitting them to be held in our churches. This pastor blatantly breached the word and intent of the Discipline, and that is why he was defrocked. He knowingly violated the Discipline and refused to acknowledge his error and repent of it. So, he was defrocked for such a clear and obvious violation.
    This nonsense about him being unjustly defrocked because of what he might do in the future was just a smoke screen by a liberal committee used as a justification for doing what they wanted to do in the first place.
    Member of the conference Board of Ordained Ministry ARE called upon to evaluate a candidate’s intention. Questions like: Do you approve of our Church government and polity? Will you support and maintain them? These and other questions are questions of intent. If that can be a basis for evaluation of candidates for ordination, why would it be any different for anyone brought up under charges who exhibits a disdain for our discipline and polity? Isn’t it time for Paul and Barnabas to part company because of this sharp disagreement????

  6. Comment by Heddrick Steel on June 25, 2014 at 5:23 pm

    What the jurisdictional appeals committee has said is that the denominational rules do not matter and do not have to be followed. We have bishops also saying by their actions and decisions the very same thing.
    First, everyone can play by those rules. Each person can do what is right in his own eyes. So be it.
    Next, it is a split. Call it rebellion, call it change, but what must be admitted is that it is a split.
    Finally, when will honesty prevail and this split be formalized? Sooner rather than later I would hope.

  7. Comment by mamaditto on June 27, 2014 at 7:30 pm

    Someone’s got to say it: Frank Schaefer and his ilk are a blight on the Body of Christ. (Remember how Jesus called the Pharisees “blind guides” in Mt 23?)

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