Society

Congregation at Indiana Methodist Church Stands By Fired Gay Choral Director

| by Allison Geller

A gay choral director at an Indiana Methodist church was fired for his sexuality, prompting 80 percent of the congregation to walk out in solidarity.

Adam Fraley, the Alexandria church’s much-loved choral director, began working for the church six years ago, according to the Herald Bulletin. He attended services with his partner, though did not speak openly about his homosexuality. Church members David and Nancy Steele urged Fraley to take the job.

Now the Steele family, along with 80 percent of the church's congregation, has stopped attending services to show their support for Fraley.

"They all embraced him," Nancy Steele said. "They're upset about the way he was treated.”

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Fraley was fired when a new minister was hired who said he was uncomfortable with Fraley. Fraley resigned, saying the workload had gotten too large—leaving him to wonder if the increase was deliberate.

Then a different interim minister, David Mantor, joined the leadership. After initially saying he would like Fraley to come back to his post, he went back on his decision and asked for Fraley’s keys three weeks after he resumed his musical duties.

The United Methodist Church allows gay people as part of the congregation, but not to serve in leadership positions, stating that “self-avowed, practicing homosexuals are not to be certified as candidates, ordained as ministers, or appointed to serve in The United Methodist Church.”

The ambiguity lies with what “serve” means— Dan Gangler, director of communications for the Indiana Conference of the UMC, said that gay people cannot be ordained in the church, but could fulfill any other leadership role “at the discretion of the congregation and the minister.”

"It's almost like he's hijacked the church," David Steele said of Mantor’s decision. "He is completely going against what the church body wants."

Fraley says he wouldn’t take his job back even if it was offered to him. Still, he’s unhappy about the way the church has treated him and people like him.

“I don't like how people pick and choose which verses they want to apply," said Fraley, about the Christian dictum against homosexuality. "The Bible also says gluttony and divorce are bad but people seem to ignore those."

“We want our church back,” Steele told WISH-TV.  “We have a lot of people, especially a lot of elderly people who are lonesome for their church, but will not feel comfortable to come back with a minister who will not accept a man who we really liked as our choir director.”

Sources: Herald BulletinWISH-TV