Frank Schaefer: To Err on the Side of Love
By Amy Pazan
On the weekend of March 29, defrocked pastor Frank Schaefer visited the Seattle Area to meet and greet supporters and to preach at Queen Anne United Methodist Church. Young person, Amy Pazan had an opportunity to listen to Schaefer’s message on Sunday as he preached a message based on the healing of the blind man.
Last week, I had the opportunity to hear Frank Schaefer give a sermon at Queen Anne UMC. Schaefer preached on the story of Jesus healing the blind man on the Sabbath.
During the sermon, Schaefer shared that a connection can be made between those who refused to help the blind man and those who were in the trial and in the jury. The jury members and the would-be good Samaritans decided to follow the given law (whether it was local law or general rules from their own established beliefs) instead of following their own good conscience.
As a pastor in Lebanon Pa., Schaefer was asked by his son Tim to marry him and his partner in 2007. For Tim, the church is a big part of his life, so having his father officiate the wedding was important to him. Schaefer, in an act of love for his own son, went against the Book of Discipline to conduct this ceremony. Similarly, Jesus went against the local laws of the Sabbath and healed the blind man.
In his reflection, Schaefer said during worship “You cannot err if you are on the side of love”. When you do something out of love, you are putting yourself on the line by doing what is right for you, and no one else – this was a risk Schaefer was willing to take.
With our current discussion on homosexuality and the Church, we will continue to ask different questions. When love and ministry are on trial, where do we stand after seeing both sides of this story played out over social media, different websites, and weekly conversation with our fellow congregants? As a Church, how can we be in ministry WITH the LGBTQ community for conversation that is welcoming, life-affirming, and expressive of the grace given to us by God?
As we too err on the side of love and seek answers, we are in prayer for everyone involved – from our bishops to our pastors, to critics and supporters, and for those struggling for acceptance in our local churches in the PNW.
Amy Pazan is a young person and a member of Aldersgate UMC (Bellevue, Wash.)
and attends Central Washington University (Ellensburg, Wash.)
Be sure to stay tuned to The PNW News Blog for an interview with Frank Schaefer, coming soon!