Why I Invited a Defrocked Pastor to Preach at Epworth

By Pastor Michael Christensen

The Rev. Frank Schaefer, former pastor of Zion Unit-ed Methodist Church in
Iona, PA,was recently defrocked by United Methodist Church officials after he refused to conform to our denominational rules that prohibit ministers from officiating at same-sex weddings.

Frank felt he had no choice when asked to perform the wedding of his son and partner in 2007, which constituted a chargeable offense and resulted in a Church Trial in
Pennsylvania ending on Dec. 19, 2013. “My actions were motivated by love, not defiance,” Frank told his church.

Gay Marriage MethodistsThe Church Jury and his Bishop gave him 30 days to decide if he would abide by United Methodist rules and refrain from performing future same-sex weddings, or else surrender his ministerial credentials. “I have to be honest with you,” Frank told the Church Jury, “I can’t uphold the Book of Discipline on this point.”

After refusing to surrender his credentials, they were taken away. Although many Methodists applauded the decision to defrock him, other church leaders voiced their protest.

Bishop John Schol, Resident Bishop of Greater New Jersey Annual Conference and Chair of Communities of Shalom National Committee, issued an emotional video statement of support of Pastor Schaefer and called for The United Methodist Church to “stop using clergy trials as a way to resolve differences in the church.” Speaking directly to gay and lesbian persons,

Bishop Schol said in the video: “I want you to know that you are children of God, of sa-
cred worth. And there are many people in the United Methodist Church who care about you, who love you deeply and who are very sad about what is happening in our church right now.”

Another church leader, Bishop Minerva Carano of the California-Pacific Conference, extended an invitation to start over and join in ministry as a licensed local pastor in the Conference. When I last talked to Frank, he and his wife had not yet decided to move
to California, and was waiting to hear if an appeal to the church ruling would be granted.

Born and raised in Germany, Frank’s parents are “conservative evangelicals, devout, pious Christians,” he says. “And I’m a progressive Methodist. We have agreed to disagree theologically, but they are proud of me for taking this stand.”

Standing on his promise of “biblical obedience” over church law, Frank has gone from being a small-town Methodist minister and silent supporter of same-sex marriage, to an outspoken LGBTQ activist with a national circuit. News of his defrocking was featured in the New York Times, Huffington Post, and in major news media. He has appeared on The View, CNN, MSNBC, the CBS Evening News, and countless regional and international news outlets.


Watch Message from Bishop John Schol on regards to Frank Schaeffer:


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