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Chalice's customer service, warehouse, and office will be closed May 27 for Memorial Day.
“Defrocked” no more

“Defrocked” no more

A decade ago, Chalice Press published Defrocked: How a Father's Act of Love Shook the United Methodist Church. A pastor for more than 20 years, Rev. Franklyn Schaefer officiated over his son’s same-sex marriage and paid a very high price—he had his ministerial credentials stripped six years later.

At the time, Schaefer’s trial before a United Methodist court and his eventual defrocking drew media attention from around the world. Chalice wanted to help Frank share his story of family, faith, and love. He and coauthor Sherri Wood Emmons created a wonderful book that humanized what for many seemed a cut-and-dried matter.

Part of the publishing world means pitching upcoming books to potential book buyers. In 2014, I was told that Defrocked would be shared with United Methodist audiences only if there was a book that portrayed the other opinion. The odds of somebody being able to publish a book advocating for dispassionate, discriminatory, outdated dogma were (thankfully) slim. Defrocked never had much of a chance to reach its intended audience.

The change Defrocked sought, though, could not be stopped.

On May 1, the United Methodist Church, the country’s largest mainline denomination, repealed their ban on LGBTQIA+ clergy and on officiating over LGBTQIA+ marriages. It was an astounding turn of events from a denomination that a decade ago seemed to be growing more conservative, though that turn was steered largely by the more conservative international membership.

I was raised United Methodist, and the issue of LGBTQIA+ ordination or marriages never crossed my mind. (It was probably on very few minds in the 1980s.) But in contemporary times, with my family still active in their UMC congregation, I’ve followed the story closely. In recent years, the United Methodist Church has allowed congregations that disagreed with the denomination’s moderating stance on the issue to leave; my childhood church was among those that disaffiliated. More than 7,600 American congregations departed—one-quarter of all American UMC congregations. While they could see the writing on the wall, the May 1st vote used a thick rainbow Sharpie to end the ban.

After losing his standing but embracing his continued call to ministry, Frank moved to California and worked in campus ministry. I trade emails with him occasionally, and today I sent him a congratulatory email thanking him for his courage. Defrocked, a book that quietly supported a transformative conversation, was taken out of print late last year.

I’m proud to know Chalice played at least a small part in making a big change in the United Methodist Church. May it be a change that makes the world a more loving, caring, compassionate place.

Brad Lyons is the president and publisher of Chalice Media Group, an open and affirming general ministry of the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) in the United States and Canada.

Image by Gerd Altmann from Pixabay
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