Bishop Schol addresses Schaefer case, clergy trials

Bishop John Schol issued a video statement Dec. 20 in response to the defrocking of Frank Schaefer and called for The United Methodist Church to stop using clergy trials as a way to resolve differences in the church.

Schaefer lost his clergy credentials Dec. 19 after being found guilty in a November church trial of violating The United Methodist Church’s Book of Discipline by performing the same-gender wedding of his son in 2007.

Schol, in an emotional statement, recounted Schaefer’s journey and turmoil around the needs of his son and the position of the church.

“This issue is so important to the present and future of our church and meaningful to me personally, that I needed to use my voice to share with you my message,” Schol said in a brief message with the video. Schol leads the church’s Greater New Jersey Area.

In the video, speaking directly to gays and lesbians, Schol said, “I want you to know that you are children of God, of sacred 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.”

Schol expressed his own love of The United Methodist Church, which has brought him into relationship Jesus Christ and nurtured and loved him.

“I do not agree with how our church has been handling these matters,” he said. Clergy trials are not helpful, “and I would like to see trials within The United Methodist Church stopped.”

Schol promised that he will “be a bishop of the whole church,” honor all views within the church, and do everything he can to prevent clergy trials. He said he wants to be part of a church that helps people come together, and in the midst of differences, find a way forward.

Schol’s statement came the same day thatBishop Minerva Carcaño extended an invitation for Schaeferto join in ministry in the California-Pacific Conference, which she oversees.

The denomination’s Book of Discipline forbids United Methodist clergy from performing same-gender weddings, and it forbids such services from being performed in United Methodist sanctuaries. The denomination officially states that the practice of homosexuality is “incompatible with Christian teaching” and that marriage is a covenant between a man and a woman. However, the church also affirms that all people are of sacred worth, that all are in need of the ministry of the church and that God’s grace is available to all. It implores congregations and families not to reject gay and lesbian members and friends.

Sign up for our newsletter!

SUBSCRIBE
Social Concerns
UMCNext, a coalition that includes Reconciling Ministries Network, Uniting Methodists and Mainstream UMC, has offered a plan that would end The United Methodist Church's restrictions against same-sex weddings and LGBTQ ordination and offer a gracious exit to local churches that disagree with those changes.

UMCNext plan would end LGBTQ restrictions

Coalition of centrists and progressives favors removing restrictions on LGBTQ ordination and same-sex weddings, allowing exit plan for churches that disagree.
General Church
Sara Hotchkiss, General Conference business manager, speaks to the Commission on General Conference during its meeting at First United Methodist Church in Lexington, Ky. Photo by Heather Hahn, UM News.

What to expect at General Conference 2020

Organizers are making some changes they hope will address issues arising from the 2019 General Conference.
General Church
Pastor Dorlimar Lebrón (left) prays with two young people, wrapped in the same type of blankets that immigrants are issued at U.S. immigration detention centers, during the meeting of The United Methodist Church’s Hispanic-Latino caucus in Philadelphia. Photo by Michelle Maldonado, UMCOM.

MARCHA: Hispanic-Latino voice needed at GC2020

Hispanics and Latinos must make sure their concerns are heard at the 2020 General Conference, say leaders of the Hispanic-Latino United Methodist caucus.