Why I prefer Good News to the IRD

These two reactions to the refrocking of Frank Schaefer highlight my distaste for the rhetoric of the IRD compared to the measured tone of Good News.

The IRD response.

The Good News response.

In the name of rounding all the bases, here is the Reconciling Ministries Network response.

And in case you have not heard, Schaefer has been appointed to a ministry in the Cal-Pac Annual Conference.

 

The refrocking

I’ll leave to others the deep analysis of the “refrocking” of Frank Schaefer.

It does appear to me that Judicial Council Decision 240 rules out the kind of penalty imposed on him. Here is the paragraph that seems most relevant to me:

Thus the Trial Court had the power to impose one of three alternate penalties, each of different severity. It is a well established rule that statutes prescribing penalties are to be strictly construed. When punishment is imposed under one of the alternative procedures, that particular punishment should be applied justly without added penalty or onerous condition borrowed from the other alternatives which were not invoked.

It seems as well that the trial court should have known about Decision 240 when it devised its penalty the first time. It appears that the 30-day suspension – whatever its motivation — was an error if the court felt he deserved to be defrocked.

I’ll be curious to see if there is another line of argument that emerges in an appeal or among those who defend the original penalty.

We already have a local option

One of the things that rang most true to me in reading Adam Hamilton’s explanation of the document he helped draft, A Way Forward, was his observation that we already do many of the things the document calls for.

Cabinets already make appointments to churches based on the fit between congregations and pastors on theological issues. We already ordain clergy regardless of whether they observe the standards of sexual practice we set for them. We already have clergy conducting wedding services that violate the language of the Book of Discipline. Depending on who you are, where you live, and who your cabinet is we have different sets of rules, norms, and practices that more and more turn a blind eye to the words of our Discipline.

This truth was underscored for me this week when I read of the appointment of Amy DeLong to a church in Wisconsin and the upcoming celebration at the church to welcome Rev. DeLong and her partner Val Zellmer to their new parsonage home.

We already have a local option.

The question is whether we want to endorse and ratify it as Hamilton suggests or try to roll it back. Given those to options, I understand why some are talking about leaving.

 

Trying to decide how to apply this

Don’t have anything to do with foolish and stupid arguments, because you know they produce quarrels. And the Lord’s servant must not be quarrelsome but must be kind to everyone, able to teach, not resentful. Opponents must be gently instructed, in the hope that God will grant them repentance leading them to a knowledge of the truth, and that they will come to their senses and escape from the trap of the devil, who has taken them captive to do his will. (2 Timothy 2:23-26, NIV)