By Shannon Trenton, Originally published on her blog.
In the last week, I’ve made some passing references and shared quite a bit on my Facebook page about a very important trial. The UMC’s Judicial Council is considering an appeal to overturn the reinstatement of Reverend Frank Schaefer. This is a case about love, equality, and ministry and will mean a great many things for The UMC as a whole, local churches and affiliated organizations…and me. Dr. Dorothee Benz sums up the proceedings very well in this post.
A few quotes from that excellent piece:
"At the heart of this case has always been Schaefer’s simple and profound act of love. At every step of the way, the church’s reaction has been to place legalism and institutional loyalty above love and Biblical Obedience.
The prosecutor and those throughout the country loudly calling for every greater punishments for clergy for ministering to LGBTQ people have always said we must enforce the rules because they are the rules and without respect for the law, our church can’t function. But the appeals ruling shows the highest respect for the law."
As she spells out, “the significance of the Judicial Council’s decision in this case could hardly be overstated.”
Reverend Schaefer acted in violation of the Book of Discipline in order to act in love and Biblical Obedience. He is the most famous face right now of a movement that has grown beyond his single act and are now being embraced by clergy all over the country. Many pastors are no longer content to engage in half-ministry or in church-sanctioned discrimination against siblings in Christ. Some have chosen to perform same-sex weddings and accept the possible consequences, while others have chosen not to preside over any weddings until they can minister fully in that capacity.
I will be following very closely to see if the highest judicial body in the church that I love will choose to act with integrity by upholding Reverend Schaefer’s reinstatement, which is fully consistent with the Book of Discipline (the whole basis of his original punishment), or if they will choose a path of discrimination that flies in the face of church law and our very motto.