Bishop Johnson offers initial statement on start of church trial

Frank Schaefer

The church trial of the Rev. Frank Schaefer began with jury selection this morning, with Bishop Alfred Gwinn (retired) presiding. Thirteen jurors were selected from a pool of 87, and the trial was underway before noon.

Advocates from EPA churches and the Reconciling Ministries Network are present and engaged in prayers, songs and peaceful advocacy. Volunteer clergy chaplains are serving as “peacekeepers,” and a number of church and non-church journalists are reporting on the trial.

More updates will be reported Tuesday morning, Nov. 19. The trial is expected to last till Tuesday evening or Wednesday morning.

EPA Conference Bishop Peggy Johnson, who is not involved in the trial, offers the following initial statement to EPA churches:

“My thanks to all for their ongoing prayers of support and their assistance with the church trial. The teamwork and the excellence in administration has been extremely helpful.

United Methodists of goodwill are of two minds regarding same-gender marriages. How we live together and work together to continue to proclaim the gospel of Jesus Christ in the midst of our division is our challenge and our call. Holy conferencing, prayer and agreeing to disagree in love can lead us forward. I believe that all in the Body of Christ are important and vitally needed to make up the whole in service to God and in Christian fellowship with one another.”

Read United Methodist News Service’s pre-trial story: Church preparing for Pennsylvania clergy trial
November 15, 2013, by United Methodist News Service – By Kathy L. Gilbert