December 23, 2013 at 11:43 am EST | by Lou Chibbaro Jr.
Defrocked Methodist pastor gives guest sermon in D.C.
Frank Schaefer, United Methodist Church, gay news, Washington Blade

The Rev. Frank Schaefer of Lebanon, Pa., appeared at Foundry on Sunday.

The Methodist pastor from Pennsylvania whose credentials as a minister were revoked last week because he refused to stop performing same-sex marriages was greeted warmly on Sunday when he delivered two guest sermons at D.C.’s Foundry United Methodist Church, which is supportive of the LGBT community.

The Rev. Frank Schaefer of Lebanon, Pa., appeared at Foundry at the invitation of the Foundry pastor, Rev. Dean Snyder, who himself has performed same-sex marriages at Foundry in defiance of a United Methodist Church policy prohibiting its ministers from performing same-sex nuptials.

The church policy also prohibits same-sex marriages from being performed in Methodist churches by ministers of other denominations or by civil officiants.

“Like Rev. Schaefer, we believe in marriage equality as a biblical principle,” says a statement released by Foundry United Methodist Church last month when Schaefer was placed on trial by church leaders in Pennsylvania. Church officials initiated the trial after they learned he performed his son’s same-sex wedding in 2007.

The tribunal conducted by the United Methodist Conference of Eastern Pennsylvania, a regional church governing body, initially sentenced Schaefer to a 30-day suspension of his ministerial duties. When he refused a request by the tribunal that he complies with the Church’s Book of Discipline, or church law, by never again conducting a same-sex marriage, church officials defrocked him.

Rev. Dawn Hand, Foundry’s associate pastor and chief program officer, told the Blade that Schaefer, his wife, and two of his four sons who accompanied Schaefer during his appearance Sunday at Foundry, each joined Foundry and were officially welcomed as members.

“They are not planning to move to this area,” Hand said. “But they do have a home church, and that’s Foundry,” she said.

Schaefer, who lives with his family in Lebanon, Pa., has been a United Methodist clergyman for 20 years, Hand said.

According to Hand, the United Methodist Conference for the Baltimore-Washington Region, which is the church governing body with jurisdiction in this area, has not taken steps to stop Foundry United Methodist Church or Pastor Snyder from performing same-sex marriages.

Lou Chibbaro Jr. has reported on the LGBT civil rights movement and the LGBT community for more than 30 years, beginning as a freelance writer and later as a staff reporter and currently as Senior News Reporter for the Washington Blade. He has chronicled LGBT-related developments as they have touched on a wide range of social, religious, and governmental institutions, including the White House, Congress, the U.S. Supreme Court, the military, local and national law enforcement agencies and the Catholic Church. Chibbaro has reported on LGBT issues and LGBT participation in local and national elections since 1976. He has covered the AIDS epidemic since it first surfaced in the early 1980s. Follow Lou

  • The very future of the United Methodist Church is at stake. If it continues to punish ministers who perform same-sex weddings and if it continues to refuse ordination to members of the GLBT community, then it ceases to be a Christian church and it violates it own Disciplinary command to treat all people equally. As a long time member of a United Methodist congregation I fear for its future. In 1844 the denomination split over slavery. While that would be a dreadful thing to do again, it may indeed be necessary. It took until 1939 for the denomination to get back together and to 1968 or so to rid itself of all formal vestiges of official racism. We cannot afford to wait that long this time. I applaud the Rev. Frank Schaefer and I applaud Foundry United Methodist Church. I 'predict' that lots more will happen soon. I hope we are up to it and that we learn from it.

    • It is my experience that the United Methodist Church has not stopped being racist. My father was a United Methodist Minister and District Superintendent, so I got a good look at what the church believed. I adopted a racially mixed child from Brazil and lived with the looks and comments until I couldn’t take it and was afraid it would hurt my child. So I left the church and have not returned because I heard one “good” Christian turn to another and whisper “whose n**ger kid is that” when my 8 or 9 year old son was acting as acolyte.

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