Over the past month, I've share with you the story of Pastor Frank Schaefer. In case you missed it, he's a United Methodist pastor who performed the marriage ceremony between his son and his son's same-sex partner. They wished to be included in the church where they grew up, where they prayed, believed and where they felt they were welcomed. Seems the flock may have welcomed them, especially when the son and his partner lived in legal "sin" (cohabiting without being married) but when the time came for church acceptance along with their legal status, they received vengeance in it's place. Or actually their minister received the ultimate punishment.
Pastor Schaefer was brought up to the ruling body of the United Methodist Church a month ago -- facing discipline for performing the legal service in Massachusetts. After a hearing, the church jury found him guilty of sins against the church dogma, their Book of Discipline, and they meted out their punishment. Pastor Schaefer had to denounce his actions, declare publicly that he was wrong and promise NEVER to marry another same sex couple-- or he could choose to be defrocked.
Talk about a King Solomon type of decision. He had to turn his back on all of those loving and devoted followers of his faith who are LGBT people, just to keep his job. He would be prohibited from marrying any of his other same-sex couples, including either of his other two sons who are also gay.
Schaefer had been told to resign from the clergy by Thursday if he could not follow the denomination's Book of Discipline. But Schaefer has said the book discriminates against gay people and vowed this week that he would not voluntarily surrender his credentials.
Church spokesman John Coleman said that officials decided to defrock him.
He really had to dig deep and find within himself, what God meant to him and how the Church was going to interpret his decision. He chose God and said we are all one under His guidance and teachings. He told the church hierarchy that he couldn't and wouldn't meet their demands. And so today, Pastor Frank Schaefer is a better man, but a defrocked minister.
If this is a black eye on the United Methodist Church, it was self-inflicted. Any church, synagogue or temple that wishes to deny true believers based on sexual orientation faces the scrutiny as to whether they really deserve to be called a church. Even sinners can be allowed to believe. The UMC is treating them like they were lepers. Though they most certainly aren't, let's not forget that Jesus walked among lepers to comfort them. He didn't shun them like the United Methodists have done to the LGBT community.
There seems to be a disconnect in the church regarding one's sexuality. It is not that of choice, but of creation. It's about time that message broke through. If not, how long will it be before some religious zealot deigns blue eyes are the devil's sign and the church stop these blue eyed members of the flock their opportunity to pray among them?