United Methodist Church Marks 14 Years of Persecution of Marriage Equality with Church Trial

United Methodist Pastors Jimmy Creech (right) and Frank Schaefer (left) convicted for officiating at church unions of same-sex couples.

United Methodist Pastors Jimmy Creech (left) and Frank Schaefer (right) convicted for officiating at church unions of same-sex couples.

Almost 14 years to the day since the United Methodist Church convicted and defrocked Jimmy Creech for performing a “holy union” ceremony for a same-sex couple, the largest mainline Protestant denomination in the United States has convicted another pastor for performing the marriage of a same-sex couple. Rev. Frank Schaefer was convicted at a church trial in Spring City, PA on Monday, November 18th, for presiding at his son’s marriage to his male partner. See the full report here.

One of Soulforce’s first direct actions was at the trial of Jimmy Creech, held November 17th, 1999. Creech was convicted and defrocked at a church trial in Grand Island, NE. Soulforce activists were arrested as they held vigil in front of the church where the trial would take place, blocking the entrance in protest. (Creech went on to serve as co-chair of the Soulforce board of directors.) Soulforce has supported or been witness to various church trials of pastors for performing marriages for same-sex couples since then, including the trial of Rev. Steven Van Kuiken in 2003 in the Presbyterian Church (USA), and the trial of Rev. Janie Spahr in the same denomination in 2010.

Soulforce continues its support of those who nonviolently resist oppression of LGBTQ people in their congregations and denominations and is currently working with activists in the United Methodist Church who are reviving the tradition of nonviolent direct action. More on this to come!