Indiana Minister Boots Gay; 80% of Congregation Also Goes Away
After serving for six years as choral director of the United Methodist Church in Alexandria, Indiana, a gay man was driven from the fold by a new minister who said LGBTs could not hold leadership positions. Much to his chagrin, 80 percent of the congregation left in solidarity with the gay man.
According to an article in The Herald Bulletin, Adam Fraley took the job of choral director six years ago, and was not openly gay while working at the church, although his partner attended services with him.
"I think they got to know me first before they knew I was gay," Fraley said in that article, adding that it upset him that the minister said he couldn’t have his job back because of his sexual orientation.
The congregation reportedly enjoyed Fraley’s work, until a new minister came in earlier this year who said he was uncomfortable with a gay man leading the music. Fraley eventually resigned, but six months later, interim minister David Mantor welcomed him back as choir director.
Three weeks later, Mantor changed his mind. Fraley was asked to leave -- and about 80 percent of the congregation left with him. Fraley said he was upset that he was asked to leave, and that someone else would judge his soul.
"I don’t like how people pick and choose which verses they want to apply," said Fraley, who considers himself a Christian. "The Bible also says gluttony and divorce are bad but people seem to ignore those."
David Steele, who acted as the intermediary between the congregation and the minister, and who was also fired for "no longer supporting the positions of the minister," said that the new minister is tearing the congregation apart.
"It’s almost like he has hijacked the church," Steele told the Herald Bulletin. "He is completely going against what the church body wants."
As reported in Raw Story, The Bulletin notes that United Methodist Churches welcome LGBTs to attend services, but church 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."
Dan Gangler, director of communications for the Indiana Conference of the UMC, said the church only "prohibits practicing gays being ordained," adding, "Any other leadership positions should be filled at the discretion of the congregation and the minister."
Winnie McCroy is the Women on the EDGE Editor, HIV/Health Editor, and Assistant Entertainment Editor for EDGE Media Network, handling all women's news, HIV health stories and theater reviews throughout the U.S. She has contributed to other publications, including The Village Voice, Gay City News, Chelsea Now and The Advocate, and lives in Brooklyn, New York.