The @RMNNetwork is Wrong, #ShaeferTrial #MinistryonTrial #TheCommunion @TheIRD @ConfessingMovement

This post represents one of the only posts I will make in the coming weeks. However, I thought this topic was important enough to warrant a special comment.


My friends of all stripes,


In response to the trial and sentencing of Rev. Frank Shaefer, #ShaeferTrial & #MinistryonTrial, I must say that the consternation over his de facto defrocking is inappropriate.


While Rev. Shaefer did this for different reasons, his actions constitute civil disobedience. Civil disobedience is a form of protest where the one who is disobedient is willing to accept the consequences of their actions, whether or not they believe the consequences are just.


One is civilly disobedient in order to bring attention to injustice of bigotry, in hopes that the injustice will be remedied. You do not do this in order to avoid consequences.


While I initially disagreed with the sentence, I think it is the most grace-filled, and henceforth, Wesleyan. He has the opportunity to remain a pastor. However, his point will not be served by rolling over and capitulating.


I do realize that, as merely an ally, I don't necessarily have a dog in this fight. However, as a global church that has existed in many forms for centuries, we must remember that it's not all about us and our trials.


The gospel cannot be forsaken for politics. When we do that, we lose hope and the reason we are all here in the first place. Don't get me wrong. Other parachurch organizations, like The Institute on Religion & Democracy and The Confessing Movement within the UMC, do this, as well. In many ways, they are the most virulent offenders. That does not mean we have to beat them to the bottom.


I do not wish to hurt any of my good friends on either side. However, I think – every once in a while – we need to be shown a bit of tough love.


3 comments on “The @RMNNetwork is Wrong, #ShaeferTrial #MinistryonTrial #TheCommunion @TheIRD @ConfessingMovement

  1. Jean Ness
    November 20, 2013 at 10:04 AM #

    Thanks for your comments, Chris, especially in light of your very strong feelings about this issue. I agree that The Rev. Frank Shaefer has been given a choice that is grace-filled. He can choose to remain a United Methodist elder in good standing or he can choose to remain obedient to his understanding of what it means to be God’s servant. While I agree that part of his decision to officiate at this wedding was civil disobedience (which we know from our country’s history is one of the few ways people have of getting unjust laws/rules changed) he had another good reason as well.

    His adult child desired to be married to someone he loved and with whom was committed to spend his life. Rev. Shaefer had the legal means (according to the state if not the denomination) to make this happen. It is an honor to be the officiant of your child’s wedding! It means that the thing you’ve based your life on – your faith walk and service to God – has been embraced by your child and that child wants to celebrate his new life honoring your work, your faith, and our God.

    So while Rev. Shaefer had a great political reason to do this wedding, he also had a compelling personal reason. And it seems to me that he made the Solomonic choice – either remain true to his vows to the UMC and tell his son that he is sinful in his love or be disobedience and grace-filled. Rev. Shaefer choose grace.

    I am glad the denomination choose grace as well because I believe we serve a God of grace. I appreciate your thoughtful post. Blessings, Chris.

    • Chris Tiedeman
      November 20, 2013 at 10:19 AM #

      Thank you, Jean. It is easy to let the controversy overshadow the fact that there are real people in real situations involved. I admire the courage displayed by Shaefer, and lament the situation in which his children find themselves.

      Your words are always wise, helpful and unique. Thank you for providing a sounding board on this.


  1. Pa. Methodist pastor suspended after officiating son’s same-sex wedding - December 6, 2013

    […] everyone is in support of Schaefer. A blogger at Notes From the Pastor’s Office said he thought the UMC’s decision on Schaefer was […]

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: