Not news: church fires gay man in leadership role. Big news: 80pct of the congregation leaves in protest
Ordinarily I steer FAR clear of these stories. They’re reported on, copy/pasted, expounded on ad nauseum by people who think it’s their sovereign duty to bitch and moan, finding a discriminatory conspiracy around every corner. This one is just a little different this time around.
Churches have been cutting gay people from payroll for years, that’s not news. My big beef with all those stories is this: the church’s particular point of view on gays isn’t something that’s recently evolved. It’s been out there for a millennia, and if it were me I wouldn’t want to work for an employer who thought that about me. This church’s congregation, however, by and large took a walk when they found out that Adam Fraley had been given his walking papers:
Adam Fraley, the man at the center of the controversy, said this is a civil rights issue. He was not re-hired as the church’s choral director because of his sexual orientation.
According to United Methodist Church law, gay people are welcome to attend services but the line is drawn at positions of leadership.
The law states, “self-avowed, practicing homosexuals are not to be certified as candidates, ordained as ministers, or appointed to serve in The United Methodist Church.”
The question of what “serve” means is a little ambiguous. Dan Gangler, director of communications for the Indiana Conference of the UMC, said the church only prohibits practicing gays being ordained.
“Any other leadership positions should be filled at the discretion of the congregation and the minister,” Gangler said.
Fraley, who took the job at the behest of David’s wife, Nancy Steele, six years ago, said he was not openly gay while working at the church. But his partner attended services with him and the Steele family said it was “obvious” Fraley was gay.
Regardless of his orientation, Fraley was the choral director for the church and everyone enjoyed his work. Then, earlier this year, a new minister came in who said he was uncomfortable with Fraley leading the music. Although the minister didn’t fire him, Fraley eventually resigned because of an added work load. He said he felt uncomfortable with the ways things had gone after the new minister came in.
After six months on the job, the church got a new interim minister, David Mantor, in September. Steele, who served as the intermediary between the congregation and the minister, said the church body hoped the new minister would allow Fraley to come back as choir director.
After originally saying he was fine with Fraley coming back, the Steeles said Mantor changed his mind three weeks after he was hired.