And the hits just keep on comin'
So, my first reaction to seeing the news that an appeals committee has ordered the reinstatement of Frank Shaefer was, "Good heavens, what do you have to DO to get rid of somebody in The UMC?"
Shaefer's reinstatement (he lost his orders for presiding over the gay marriage of his son) echoes the successful appeal of Bishop Whatsisname down in Texas, whom the Jurisdictional Committee on Episcopacy decided to drop for incompetence or something: a rare attempt to hold somebody to account for something in the upper reaches of our leadership. The Bishop agreed to go quietly, then cried racism and appealed and now his Jurisdiction has to find another conference to inflict him on -- er, another place to employ him.
It's not that I thirst to pitch people out of the ministry or something. I agree with our tradition, which is slow to file formal charges against the clergy or move to drop people for not having so much on the ball. We put up with a lot because we believe in people and we love people. But the procedures are there for a reason. At some point, somebody somehow has got to be able to make a charge stick. How many courts and committees and other hurdles do you have to go through before you reach finality?
Or is it that we are not going to be allowed to reach the "wrong" kind of finality? That ordinary schlubs can be pitched out if their bishop or superintendent doesn't want them, but "special" people -- gay rights activists or bishops or somebody else (in)famous -- can appeal and appeal until somebody finds some kind of "error" that undoes it all and makes us all relive the pain again (for our own good, no doubt)?