Thursday, November 21, 2013

A Statement from Foundry

Foundry is a historic, progressive church in Washington D.C. that welcomes all, worships passionately, challenges the status quo, and seeks to transform the world through God's love. Drawing upon long-established rituals and spiritualities, Foundry is innovative and pioneering in our efforts to be a place of positive change within Christianity, within our denomination, within ourselves and in the world. Our doors swing wide and swing outward as we reach out into the world in which we live. We stand with all other churches and ministers of who are living out their calling to minister to all of God’s children.

We join other United Methodist Churches in our concern over the recent actions in our denomination. The Rev. Frank Schaefer of the Zion United Methodist Church in Lebanon, PA is at risk of losing his ordination as the result of a church trial held on November 18-19, 2013. He was found guilty of not upholding the discipline of the United Methodist Church and of performing a same sex wedding. A jury of ministers suspended him for 30 days for violating the United Methodist Church’s rules. Rev. Schaefer had officiated the wedding of his son, Tim and his partner six years ago in a quiet ceremony held in Massachusetts. He did not do this to make a statement. He did it out of love for his son. Now, Rev. Schaefer must decide during the 30-day suspension if he will embrace all of the United Methodist discipline or surrender his ordination. We stand firmly with Rev. Schaefer and others who are called to minister to the whole church and refuse to do anything less.

This trial was not necessary and the verdict is wrong. Rev. Schaefer is a father who loves his gay son; a son who as a teenager, contemplated suicide in reaction to the United Methodist understanding of homosexuality as articulated in the Book of Discipline. Tim believed he was not worthy of God’s grace and did not want to bring shame on his family or his church. Rev. Schaefer did not passively sacrifice his son to the rules in the one part of the United Methodist Book of Discipline to uphold another. God has already sacrificed his Son, Jesus Christ, to save all of us. As is stated in another part of our Book of Discipline, all people are of sacred worth. Rev. Schaefer is an example we should all be proud to follow. We stand with others across the denomination who are calling for an end to these church trials and an end to unjust discrimination that elevates the United Methodist Book of Discipline above the Bible’s message of love.

We also stand firmly entrenched in our United Methodist history and tradition. Foundry is planning our bicentennial celebration for next fall and we want to celebrate our part of that rich history. We recognize the challenges our denomination faces on the global stage. Our commitment remains to provide leadership to address those challenges so that no one is harmed. A church in Washington D.C. faces very different challenges than a church in Zambia faces very different challenges than a church in Texas or Oklahoma. We are committed to walking with our brothers and sisters everywhere to reach more people, touch more lives, and continue growing to be a catalyst for change and possibility by responding to God's call.

LGBT Christians are and have always been a part of the United Methodist Church. We have marginalized them and caused pain that we are not proud of and are committed to ending. We stand with those LGBT Christians. Foundry is a stronger church and the United Methodist denomination is a stronger denomination because of our LGBT members. We urge all United Methodists – lay people, ministers, and district superintendants, and bishops – to uphold their responsibility to the whole church. We pledge our support and participation in conversations and dialogue with our episcopal leaders as they uphold that responsibility.

For those struggling with this week’s news, lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, or straight, United Methodist or not, we offer these words of comfort: You are always welcome at Foundry. We love you. And God does too.

Foundry Management Board
LGBTQ Advocacy Team
Pastoral Staff

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