LGBT Parents & Allies

An Act Of Love: A Documentary Inspired By Rev. Frank Schaefer

by Scott Sheppard

Like a lot of you, I first heard about Rev. Frank Schaefer from the news.

I read an article back in November about a United Methodist pastor who was in the middle of a church trial. Six years earlier, Rev. Schaefer had performed a small wedding ceremony for his son, Tim, something countless pastors have done for their children.

The only snag in this story is that Tim married a man.

My own father was a United Methodist minister for nearly twenty-five years in Michigan. Growing up, I had always assumed that when the day came for me to get married, my dad would perform the wedding ceremony. I had seen him officiate weddings my whole life, including some for relatives, so it seemed the obvious choice. Unfortunately, my father passed away when I was in high school so I’ll never have that opportunity. But there’s no doubt in my mind that if he were alive, he’d be the one reading the vows on my wedding day.

So let’s say you’re a pastor. Your son is engaged. But your son is gay. What do you do? Do you point him to the nearest courthouse and wish him well? Do you cut him out of your life completely? Or do you support him and accept the honor of performing his wedding? If you’re Frank Schaefer or Rev. Dr. Thomas Ogletree, we know the answer. Dr. Ogletree’s case was dropped on Monday, while Frank is currently unemployed.

To put it mildly, the response seems uneven.

After first reading about Pastor Frank (he was still a pastor then), I began following his story closely. He was found guilty and suspended for thirty days to think things over. Then he was all over TV. Then he held a press conference and told the UMC that he wasn’t going to give up his credentials voluntarily. If they wanted him gone, they had to do it themselves. Whoa, this guy’s got guts. So the UMC said, “Ok,” and the rest is history.

I had a feeling that a few weeks later, Frank Schaefer would disappear from the public eye and be forgotten. Amazing United Methodist organizations like Reconciling Ministries Network and Methodists In New Directions (MIND) are still fighting for equality in the denomination, but Frank’s story seemed especially powerful to me, and I didn’t want people to forget it. So I reached out to Frank with my crazy idea of making a feature documentary about his story and the history of church trials and LGBT discrimination by the United Methodist Church. He agreed.

With only a small amount of savings to my name, I started following Frank and his wife Brigitte around the country to his speaking engagements. I was like the one and only Frank Schaefer Dead Head, following him from gig to gig. Los Angeles. Washington, DC. Dallas.

I saw firsthand how Frank’s stance for equality impacted people all over the United States.

People can hardly believe that a straight pastor stood by his children (two more of Frank’s kids are gay) to the point of losing his job. I’ve seen people with tears in their eyes thank him for what he did. Frank didn’t know he was standing up for LGBT people all over the world when he performed his son’s wedding, but he was.

It was after a Q&A at the Cathedral of Hope in Dallas, TX that I met my first financial backer for the documentary. A young man came up to me and thanked me for making this film and handed me some crumpled bills from his pocket. He didn’t know that those six dollars were the first bit of financial support I’d received, but I’m forever grateful.

I don’t know if I’ll ever fully understand why I decided to make the documentary An Act of Love. I don’t know if it was a calling from God or simply intuition. But I feel very strongly that it’s what I’m supposed to be doing with my life right now.

And after meeting LGBT Christians around the country and hearing their stories, I know that this film is important and has to be made.

My co-producers and I are currently gathering support through a campaign that ends on March 20, 2014. This is the sort of project that needs the support of an entire community. Post the trailer on your Facebook page or Twitter feed. Ask your pastor to play it in church on Sunday. Hang up flyers around campus.

If we don’t keep discussing LGBT rights in our churches then we can’t expect to see change in our churches.

Is this documentary going to single-handedly create change? No. But it can help keep the conversation going.

Comments (1)

play minecraft games

It’s truly a great and
It’s truly a great and helpful piece of info. I am glad that you simply shared this helpful
info with us. Please keep us up to date like this.
Thank you for sharing.

Comments are closed.