Post submitted by Chelsea Schoen, HRC Religion and Faith Intern
Recently, in Alexandria, Indiana, a choir director of the United Methodist Church was turned away from being re-hired, presumably because of his sexuality. Although, he had been at the church’s service for six years, Adam Fraley is now stripped of his leadership role without the possibility of returning.
Fraley originally resigned from the position of choir director when he became uncomfortable with the new minister who expressed his own discomfort at Fraley serving in a leadership position at the church. Now, after another change in church leadership, Fraley is seeking to resume his position, but claims that the interim minister, David Mantor, won’t re-hire him based on the justification that letting Fraley lead is biblically unsound.
However, there are many voices in the congregation disputing this decision, including David Steele, who, in addition to being a longtime church member, serves as the intermediary between the congregation and the minister. After standing in opposition to Mantor, Steele was consequently told he could no longer serve the church, a decision which was supported by the district superintendent.
He and his family have since left the church, and 80% of the congregation has followed, according to The Herald Bulletin. The fact that a large majority of the church have now stopped attending services due to the decision regarding Fraley’s job supports Steele’s statement that “The Methodist Church is archaic in their view and there needs to be a change from the top.”
Dan Gangler, Director of Communications of the Indiana Conference of the United Methodist Church, refutes Mantor’s rationale behind his decision to not re-hire Fraley saying, “Gays and lesbians are welcomed at the United Methodist Church and to be a member of the United Methodist Church or even serve as leaders in the church. There’s nothing to prevent them from any type of role in the United Methodist Church, except one, and that’s ordination.”
Although Fraley tried to contain his emotions over the decision, not being re-hired due to his being gay has been a hurtful experience, and now, with the support of his congregation and partner, he is speaking out, hoping to be an example for the next person struggling in rural Indiana at the intersection of faith and sexuality.
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