Frank Schaefer


Reuters News Service

October 27, 2014

United Methodist “Supreme Court” Re-Instates Renegade Pastor

“…the future of our denomination belongs to an increasingly global, biblically faithful majority whose ministries offer far greater hope to ALL people….”
-UMAction Director John Lomperis

Washington, DC—The United Methodist Church’s “supreme court,” its Judicial Council, has just affirmed the re-instatement of Frank Schaefer, an Eastern Pennsylvania pastor who was defrocked in a church trial last year for performing a same-sex union service.

This highly technical decision hinged on obscure details of church law and the precise semantics of how Schaefer’s penalty was worded. It indicates that Schaefer could have been defrocked if only the penalty’s exact wording “had been differently constructed.”

IRD’s United Methodist Action Director John Lomperis commented:

“It is disappointing to see Schaefer escape accountability, based on the Judicial Council’s uncritical acceptance of some very flawed arguments of his legal team. This will certainly undermine trust in the Council as well as in our bishops, who nominated most of its members.

“This episode follows a long pattern of conservative United Methodists bending over backwards to be gracious to church-killing radicals, while the latter cynically abuse the grace they are offered to selfishly hurt the church. Now the Judicial Council’s effective message for future trial courts is: to hold out-of-control clergy accountable, you should be as punitive as possible, not creatively offering them a second chance, as Schaefer’s penalty did. And avoid delegating implementation of the penalty to another body. 

“But this single case does NOT change our denomination’s basic standards. The United Methodist Church still officially affirms God’s compassionate, biblical boundaries for sexual self-control and makes our clergy liable for punishment if they personally violate them or bless same-sex unions. This ruling does not protect United Methodist clergy put on trial in the future for blessing same-sex unions, but may help make effective punishment more likely.

“Schaefer has moved to a dying, radicalized California region of the church. He pursued a cynical, any-means-necessary strategy, even to the point of blatant dishonesty, to selfishly impose as much damage on the church as possible, after already devastating his former congregation. Today, his supporters will celebrate their “victory” over accountability, Scripture, and the growing majority of other United Methodists. But the future of our denomination belongs to an increasingly global, biblically faithful majority whose ministries offer far greater hope to ALL people, including same-sex-attracted individuals, than the divisive tactics, public grandstanding, and secularized worldview of a vocally disruptive minority.”


(More detailed analysis of the case can be read here.)

17 Responses to United Methodist “Supreme Court” Re-Instates Renegade Pastor

  1. Nick Porter says:

    Pathetic and not surprising.

  2. eMatters2 says:

    It is too bad they let this non-Christian be a pastor in the first place. That’s what happens when leaders don’t exercise church discipline.

  3. Dan says:

    Stick a fork in the UMC, it’s done. If groups like Good News don’t call for a break up right now, they will end up just like the “prophetic witness” cadre in The Episcopal Church; marginalized, denigrated, and without any influence.

  4. d reid says:

    And they wonder why we are loosing members and dropping in attendance

  5. Mike Ward says:

    If the wording had been different, they would have reinstated him based on some other techinicality.

  6. Jim Tormey says:

    I guess this means The Book of discipline is and out dated old fashioned useless book. So what do we decide we will not uphold next!? Even a bigger push by our denomination toward a split!?!?

    • MarcoPolo says:

      Yes, SPLIT!
      Sometimes the best action for a discordant marriage, is divorce.
      Personally, I liken this situation to a natural evolution in Life’s cycle. That of Mitosis (cell division). A necessary event for continuation of all “living” things.

  7. Darah Gaz says:

    Was Reverend Publicity Ho a success in his ministry?
    Nope. When you can’t make converts and grow your church, fall back on the old reliable: do something shocking, get the cameras rolling.

  8. Pudentiana says:

    It is TIme to stop Complaining and Act:
    Rise up, O men of God!
    His kingdom tarries long.
    Bring in the day of brotherhood
    and end the night of wrong.

    Let women all rise up!
    Have done with lesser things.
    Give heart and mind and soul and strength
    to serve the King of kings.

    Rise up, O men of God!
    The church for you doth wait,
    her strength unequal to her task;
    rise up, and make her great!

    Lift high the cross of Christ!
    Tread where his feet have trod.
    Disciples of the Son of Man,
    rise up, O church of God!

  9. ray worsham says:

    IRD must take some responsibilty here. It has continued to call for mild -mannered response and milk toast remaining in a gatheting storm of apostacy within the leadership. Past time to let the “new Methodist” go their broad and easy way.

  10. John S. says:

    This is, sadly, typical. Conservative groups uphold the rule of law and accept, albeit grudgingly, such rulings. Liberal groups would be calling for redress in the streets if it had gone against them.

    The one good point might be conservatives understanding better the nature of the beast and the need for immediate, definitive action on those who flount the BOD. I understand the desire to show mercy and offer redemtion but if Schaeffer had been defrocked immediately he still could have been easily reinstated later after showing repentance and affirming the BOD. Did they really think that with all the attention, praise and support he was getting that he would agree to their conditional in the first place?

  11. I don’t get it. How can this be a difficult case? In most cases I figure that the evidence is the key difficulty. In other words, the crux is to find out whether or not the person accused actually committed the crime or not. Did X break the law, or not?
    In this case, it was evidently clear that Mr. Schaefer had broken the church law and yet the Supreme Court overturned his defrocking. Either the counsel for the Church (the “D.A”) bungled this case or the Supreme Court is 100% wrong.

  12. Mark McRoberts says:

    You sir are a bigot, and a hateful person who dresses their bigotry and hatred up in a religious wrapping. You are probably part of the 80 Meth-isis hidden-odists who have called for the church to become a legalistic hateful group. Yes the 80 pastors and bishops who dare not to give out their identity. They hide in the shadows spewing out a hate filled heresy in the Good News. Jesus never said anything about LGBT folk and our domination which I joined when it was the MEC and then after stonewall decided to put in these discriminatory words in the discipline. If you wish to come to the Malta Bend UMC to discuss your hateful words come on. I will take you on. I’m a 5th generation Methodist and head my family of the 6 & 7th generations. Maybe it is time for another Civil War in the UMC!

    • Gary Whiteman says:

      Wow, all that warm agape love in your post, it’s overwhelming.

      Other than calling people “hateful,” you got nothing.

      If you think Christians are “hateful,” then the apostle Paul was “hateful.”

      Don’t count on your linkage to Malta Bend UMC to get you into heaven. Malta Bend has zero authority. If the choice is between the apostle Paul and Malta Bend, the choice is pretty obvious.

      Btw, lots of us are EX-UMs because of attitudes like yours. Being called “haters” because we take the New Testament as a guide to life was just too much to handle. But rest assured, churches like mine have extended a warm welcome to people fleeing the ACLU churches that promote homosexuality.

      Guess which ones churches are growing – the Christian churches, or the pro-gay? 🙂

  13. Mark McRoberts says:

    Dare not disagree with this fool or you will be stopped.

  14. abd4JC says:

    Faith, trust, and respect, for the leadership is destroyed… I feel a split is inevitable… when the Word of God is trumped by a technicality our witness suffers too greatly to be overcome..

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