Good News Leaders Discuss Schaefer Verdict

Good News Leaders Discuss Council of Bishops and Schaefer Verdict

Good News President Rob Renfroe and Vice President Tom Lambrecht discuss the verdict and penalty issued to the Rev. Frank Schaefer in a trial concluded November 19, 2013, for performing the same-sex wedding of his son in violation of the order and discipline of The United Methodist Church.

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Comments

  1. DL Herring says

    Thank you Rev Rob and Rev Tom. I am so deeply saddened that our beloved Church is now in a state of schism. Yes, I think history will record that the division occurred when this large number of Clergy broke their sacred vows and broke the order of our discipline. The schism is already here.

    For decades now we’ve allowed “progressive” ultra-liberalism to infiltrate our Churches. We’ve moved away from personal Holiness to a teaching of “anything goes” as long as you claim it’s in the name of love or tolerance. We don’t hear preaching against sin anymore because to label ANYTHING “sin” is considered intolerant, marginalizing, and disenfranchising. I ask myself: “Are we ‘Methodist’ anymore?”, and “Have we ever been ‘Methodist’ since the unification of 1968?” Or, did the real Methodist sect die a long time ago just as John Wesley feared.

    I’m troubled, too, that this internal doctrinal/ecclesial matter is being couched as a “civil rights” issue. We aren’t a civil or governmental organization, we are a Church. We must guard against being blown in the winds of ‘political-correctness’. The Church is “private” by the guarantee of our US Constitution. We set our own standards for membership and ordination. We are in the World, not of it. What’s next on this slippery slope? Will we start ordaining Atheists in the name of all-inclusiveness? Will we eliminate a ‘profession of faith’ as part of Baptism and membership? Will we remove the Cross from our logo, steeples, and communion tables so as not to offend the unbeliever next door?

    We need clarification in the 2016 General Conference. Without unity of doctrine we are no longer a Church. Sexuality is intended by God to be within the bonds of Holy Matrimony, between one Man and one Woman, for the sole purpose of natural procreation.

    Homosexuality isn’t a chosen ‘lifestyle’. I can speak with authority on this because I am gay! And, I realized my orientation in a time when it would have been very dangerous to make a public confession. Coming out-of-the-closet would have cost me my family, friends, and most probably my job. So no, it’s not a chosen ‘lifestyle’. Although, I think some sexually confused young people today declare homosexual orientation because of pop-cultural influences; it’s very trendy now to be gay.

    I’d made my own personal vow of celibacy many years ago. I’ve found that as I center myself on things that are of God, sexual desire fades away. There was a time when I thought God had cursed me, and I left the Church for a period of time because I felt unworthy of God’s love and Christ’s atonement. But, I know now it’s not a curse. God has given me this special challenge that I know in some way or form will serve His purpose. Maybe that purpose has come today in the testimony of my own experience.

  2. Commitment to "United" Methodism says

    Dear GN,
    Thanks for your youtube message. My hope and prayer is that through “holy conferencing” the UMC will be able to support same-sex marriage based on the inclusive Gospel that current ministers are doing so. I believe this will happen with the Holy Spirit’s intervention in my lifetime. However, my concern is when this happens, can we remain United? Again, my hope and prayer is that we will. If we believe in “holy conferencing” as stated in this video, will GN supporters remain? Or will they act in civil disobedience as ministers who support same-sex marriage now? How beautiful the testimony of the UM church could be if we find ways for all to minister with convictions they have been led to believe in through Scripture, Reason, Tradition, and Experience. If there is a church that can do this, I believe it is the UMC. We have an incredible task to make Disciples of Jesus Christ for the transformation of the world. May God grant us the courage to focus on our mission with all of God’s children.

    • I am a bit curious about your term ‘inclusive’ Gospel. The Gospel is indeed inclusive in many ways. In Christ there is no Jew nor Gentile, no slave or free person. The Gospel is of course for all people. The Gospel on the other hand is exclusive. Jesus says that ‘no one comes to the Father except through me.’ He claims He is ‘the way, the truth, and the life.’ In Acts it is declared that there is no other name under heaven by which humans must be saved.
      I have greater doubt than you that the UMC will change our position on sexuality during your lifetime (I don’t know your age) or mine (I am 37). The UMC is shrinking in the United States, and growing in other parts of the world. The American voice and liberal voice in the US is shrinking. I pray the UMC holds fast to a Biblical view. That ALL people are people of sacred worth and the Gospel is open to ALL people. We desire not a single sinner to perish, but will that ALL people be saved. Being saved, includes acknowledging and repenting of sin. I am a lowly sinner, no greater than anyone else. I firmly believe that Jesus came to save straight people. I also firmly believe Jesus came to save gay people.

  3. Dale Haseley says

    If the UMC does not have the means or commitment to Scriptural purity to pull in the
    rains on it heretical clergy and bishops, perhaps its time to split or return the local Church property to the
    local Churches and dissolve. Of course since there is money and well paid positions involved
    this would sure be difficult even if it is the right thing to do..

    Dale

  4. Ric Walters says

    Thank you, D L Herring, for your powerful witness! If only those who demand change would read your testimony, and recognize that scientific discoveries such as the “gay gene” don’t trump God’s desire for us to live holy lives.

    Should we “disunite” over this issue? I think the supporters of homosexual behavior already have. The rest is semantics.

  5. UMC Polity Question concerning trial sentencing says

    Tom (and readers),
    I just finished my UMC Polity course. This was enlightening about the system of church law in the UMC. I am by no means an expert on church law, but as I understand it, the Bishop is the gatekeeper and cannot rule judgement, but must uphold the law. Regardless of where one stands on homosexuality, I believe the “experts” on both sides will be studying the outcome of the Shaefer trial. If I understand correctly the presiding Bishop over this case was in error and did not interpret the Discipline correctly. The jury is a “judicial” group organized for the trial and for sentencing. The Board of Ordained Ministry is an administrative group that overseas the clergy from cradle to grave. I don’t believe you can mix the two in sentencing. Doesn’t the jury have to make the sentence and consider former judicial council rulings? This may be a technicality, but if Shaeffer did not surrender his credentials, how can the BoOM take them way? Didn’t the jury have to do this? This seems that if Shaefer was to appeal, the judicial council could and would reinstate his credentials because the law was not performed properly. Regardless of where one stands on the issue, church law has precedence over how one interprets Scripture on this matter. Perhaps Bishop Schol may be onto something here about avoiding trials because the church will be caught up in trials that good people will try to oversee, but are not church law experts and make rulings that are inconsistent resulting in appeals to the judicial council. This could be costly and at the end of the day we will have learned more about church law, but we will have wasted time and neglected to make disciples (gay or straight) of Jesus Christ for the transformation of the world. Does anyone who reads this have any insight to what I have suggested? I am curious how the church will proceed based on church law, not the Bible. Just Curious…thanks for your responses!

    • Thank you for your question. It was the jury (trial court), not the bishop, who identified the Board of Ordained Ministry as the group to administer the penalty that they proposed. As an “administrative group,” the BoOM is a natural group to administer the penalty. The penalty said that Schaefer must either pledge to uphold the Book of Discipline in its entirety or surrender his credentials. He did neither. So the BoOM had the responsibility to (in the absence of Schaefer’s pledge to uphold the Discipline) remove his credentials. This is not a conflict of church law (as I see it).

      Our judicial system, cumbersome as it is, is a system of accountability within the church. Without it or a similar system, there would be no way to hold persons accountable to obey the requirements of the Discipline. There needs to be some form of church government that maintains order and discipline within the church, or there will only be anarchy. Even in a congregational polity, issues of discipline are decided by a group of elders or a congregational vote.

      The waste of time and resources is coming from those who are attempting by their disobedience to force the church to allow their opinion. They are denying the process of conferencing that has always been the way Methodists (since 1741) have decided issues.

      • UMC Polity Question concerning trial sentencing says

        Thanks Steve for your response. After posting my question, I talked to a “self-proclaimed” polity expert and she said that Shaefer will definitely get his credentials back because of the way the presiding bishop of the trial handled the proceedings. Interesting! I guess time will tell. I’ve been surprised how the judicial council has responded/ruled on recent judgements based on church law technicalities and not how Scripture is interpreted to inform the Book of Discipline. This can be good or bad depending on how one views Scripture on this matter. The whole trial system on this matter breaks my heart. It doesn’t seem helpful to holy conferencing, instead because a divider to the great church I know as United Methodism. It’s obvious that the issue is Biblical interpretation on this matter. I wonder how we can holy conference on this when clearly the two sides feel that to believe any other way is in violation of God’s plan. I recently came across this article by Dr. Jack Jackson, professor at Claremont SoT. He received his education from Asbury (a well respected seminary that trains UMC pastors) and is an elder in the FL Conference-I would assume a more conservative conference. I’ve had conversation with him and although I can’t tell which side he is on the issue, he definitely feels called to uphold the current BOD as it stands because that’s our method the Holy Spirit works through to order the church. I am new to the UMC from the Wesleyan church and feel called to be a UMC person because of the great message of “making disciples of Jesus Christ for the transformation of the world.” This is my calling too, however with all the focus on this issue, I feel like we as a church are forgetting who we are. I’m reminded of Wesley’s message that salvation is for all to choose, and was passionate about a holy life. In some of my readings, I recall his encounters with people of other faith and religious traditions that he had serious disagreement with. He said he couldn’t discredit the work of God in their journey even though he had serious disagreement with them. He stayed on the message God laid on his heart to share. I wonder if this example might help us to move forward and “agree to disagree”, although at GC 2012, this didn’t happen. My friends who attended GC 2012 said that conservative caucuses helped inform the African delegates on how to vote. They gave them gifts of iPads and iPhones to help them. Perhaps this was because of the language concern and wanted them to make sure they understood how to vote. I’m sure there wear people on the liberal side offering gifts to delegates as well. All of this lobbying could have muddled the delegates discernment of perhaps it was used by the Holy Spirit. I don’t know. As you might have guessed, I’m a peacemaker, and I so desire for the church to be united in our mission and this one issue, very important for both sides, is derailing our efforts. I pray for God’s intervention to join our hearts and minds somehow, so that we can make disciples of Jesus Christ for the transformation of the world. What are your thoughts?
        Link to Jack Jackson’s thought’s “Breaking up is hard to do.” http://unitedmethodistreporter.com/2012/10/19/breaking-up-is-hard-but-right-thing-for-the-umc/

        • I just want to make it clear that no gifts of iPads or iPhones were given to the African delegates at GC 2012, Cell phones were given to any international delegates who did not have them at GC 2008, so that they could communicate among themselves while in the U.S. That was NOT done in 2012.

          • Response to Steve says

            Thanks Steve for your response. The iPhone/IPad gifts information was given to me from someone who attended GC 2012 and witnessed it firsthand. My hope and prayer is that this was NOT done from either side of the issue. Thanks again for your response. I keep praying for a resolution so that we can stay on target with our church’s mission. Thanks for what you and your organization is doing as well to share about this delicate issue. Your reporting can be a thankless job. Thank you for what your doing.

  6. GW Bill Warren says

    The Split of the Methodist Esiscopal Church in 1844 over a matter of biblical truth and personal conscience and strong opinions about what scripture actually says was not destructive of the denpomination, but rather an opportunity for committed factions as unified evangelists to grow the two divisions of the denomination. Two of the small congregations I serve today were started in the northwest as Methodist Episcopal South congregations. Another had Methodist Episcopal North roots. Many of our local congregations are made up of people that feel strongly both ways about the issue of sexual sin or God’s natural creation.
    Working out a fair and equitable solution to allowing those congregations that want to become two congregations with differing interpretations of scriptural obedience could, in the long run, result in denominational growth. It means that District committees on Church location and building and District Trustees would need to help the local congregations determine the best route for respectful separtion and financial health. How much more Christian than today’s condemnation language over the issues.

    The slavery issue was part of the causual elements of the great civil war in our nation. We are seeing civil war with religious justification in many places of the world today. Are we up to shunning violence and condemnation in favor of agreeing in a great test of God’s plan by allowing two differing discipline doctrines to demonstrate God’s desire to see us, God’s creation, in harmony and community, and not using discipline and doctrines interpreted by man to be the excuse for bashing each other?

  7. Lapsed Methodist says

    This lapsed Methodist says it is time for the church to split. I would never consider becoming “unlapsed” into a church that preaches hypocrisy in the belief that its own man-made covenants are more important than the teachings of Jesus. That is exactly what Good News and groups and individuals like it are doing.

  8. It is my hope that the United Methodist Church will not support Same Sex marriage. It is not in keeping with the Bible or the UM Discipline. Perhaps those that think it should, should move on to another denomination.

    • Response to Robert says

      Robert, I hear your concern. But isn’t discernment and Holy Conferencing in the GC supposed to lead us to the current revelation of the Holy Spirit’s work in today’s world? It would be sad to me if other’s left the denomination over this issue from either side. Our over arching theme in the UMC is it’s mission-Making Disciples of Jesus Christ for the transformation of the world. Currently, It feels like our mission is Judgement, on both sides of the homosexual issue. I believe judgement is part of our journey and a way to better ourselves for a holy life. However both camps on this issue are so passionate that I feel we have lost our true mission in the UMC. I don’t have any answers, but I know God’s over arching theme is love. When I work with people, who I have serious disagreement with, I am a better person, I am a better Christ Follower. I wonder what would happen if both camps could find a way to work out their convictions and we all “unite” in our mission that God has called us to do? This would take great risk, but I believe God would be pleased. Many people have based their argument that only conservative churches are growing numerically. I’m cautious about this stat because the church as whole is declining. I was in conversation to serve at a large conservative UMC church in Georgia that 7500 members and only 1300 in weekend attendance. Why these numbers? I have know liberal churches who have 1300 in attendance and only 1000 members. How we measure tell a story, but those interpretations can be viewed differently on how one tells their story. Again, not sure what the final answer is, only God knows. However, through it all, my hope and prayer is that we unite so we can carry on our mission.

      • If we as Christians accept same-sex marriage and homosexuality, knowing what the Bible teaches, then shouldn’t we also accept adultery, stealing, telling lies, and other lifestyles that contradict the Word of God? Where does compromising Biblical principles and standards stop? Is that a slippery slope we really want to stand on? The problem with slippery slopes is that the only direction you go is down.

      • I am sorry but I get quite tired of ‘holy conferencing’ which is a cunard for ‘keep on talking” and while we keep on talking the liberal/progressives (regressives really) continue to flout the UM Discipline and run roughshod over the naiive and quite good UM laity who are so trusting yet have little clue what is really going on.
        We UMs are great on popular ‘tags’ like holy conferencing and I just want to puke! On the issue of homosexuality there is not a need for so-called ‘holy conferencing’ anymore than a need for ‘holy conferencing’ on racism!

        All need the transforming, life-changing, sin-destroying power of God’s Holy Spirit in our lives. There is no longer a United Methodist Church as we are no longer united and haven’t been for a long time! The whining liberals haven’t gotten their way since 1972 and now they are being blatantly defiant. At least they are forcing people to show their stripes!

        • Well said Jerry: “On the issue of homosexuality there is not a need for so-called ‘holy conferencing’ anymore than a need for ‘holy conferencing’ on racism!” Sin is sin, end of story. To discuss the merits of sin would be a total lack of wisdom since there aren’t any.

          “Do not be wise in your own eyes: fear the Lord and shun evil.
          This will bring health to your body and nourishment to your bones.
          Proverbs 3:7-8

  9. I grew up UMC. My Dad was a life long pastor, etc., but I would not and do not invite anyone to come to church with me, especially if they are a new christian. I would be responsible for that person’s soul after they are subjected to many of the UMC’s acceptance of homosexuality, errors in the bible, problems with the term born again, ambivalence on Christ’s divinity, etc, etc. Sad and it begs the question: what am I doing here!

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