Bishop agrees to reinstate Schaefer after successful appeal

The following is a public statement by Philadelphia Episcopal Area Bishop Peggy A. Johnson, Bishop of the Eastern Pennsylvania and Peninsula-Delaware (regional) conferences. Her statement is in response to today’s decision by the United Methodist Church’s Northeastern Jurisdiction Committee on Appeals that the Rev. Franklyn Schaefer should be reinstated as an ordained minister in The United Methodist Church.

Please note that Bishop Johnson has no statement to make at this time regarding whether the Appeals committee’s ruling will be appealed. That decision is  the responsibility of the Rev. Christopher Fisher, Counsel for the Church in this case.

I was informed today by Jen Ihlo, President of the Northeastern Jurisdiction Committee on Appeals, that the Rev. Frank Schaefer, who appealed the withdrawal of his credentials as an ordained minister in The United Methodist Church, has won his appeal, and thus, should have his credentials restored to him by the Eastern Pennsylvania Conference. I intend to abide by the committee’s decision and return him to active service as an ordained clergy member of this conference presently.

This has been a challenging judicial process, and I express my heartfelt appreciation for the diligent efforts made to ensure due process and uphold our United Methodist Discipline with respect, understanding and compassion for all involved. I also ask for continuing, supportive prayers for Rev. Schaefer, his family, and the members and churches of our conference and our denomination, as we struggle gracefully to find common ground.

I pray confidently that our church may emerge stronger, more hopeful and more faithful to both its biblical grounding and its prophetic calling, as it continues to make disciples of Jesus Christ and equip them for God’s transforming work in the world.

Bishop Peggy A. Johnson
Philadelphia Episcopal Area

Photo: The Rev. Frank Schaefer speaks to reporters during a news conference Dec. 16, at Arch Street UMC in Philadelphia, following the loss of his ministerial credentials. Mike Dubose, UMNS photo