First United Methodist Church of Alexandria, Ind., which earlier this year made headlines for barring a gay man from serving as its choir director, will shutter at the end of the year, reports area newspaperThe Herald Bulletin.
The church's pastor, David Mantor, cited a general decline in attendance at United Methodist congregations and denied a connection with that incident. However, the flock reportedly lost some 80 percent of its members after Adam Fraley (pictured below right) was fired for being gay.
After six years as choir director, Fraley had resigned the position. However, after Mantor joined the church as its interim minister, Fraley asked to be reinstated. Mantor at first tapped Fraley for the role, then changed course and called for Fraley's resignation. Unwilling to quit, Fraley was dismissed.
As The Advocatepreviously reported, church leaders apparently justified Fraley's dismissal with doctrine stating that "self-avowed, practicing homosexuals" cannot "serve" the church. A spokesman for the denomination, however, told TheHerald-Bulletin that the ban applied only to ministers and told TV station WRTV that "gays and lesbians are welcomed at United Methodist Church and to be a member of United Methodist Church or even serve as leaders in the church. There's nothing to prevent them from any type of role in United Methodist Church except one -- that's ordination."
Acceptance of LGBT people has been a contentious issue within the Methodist church. Some congregations and clergy are affirming while others are not, and doctrine calls homosexuality incompatible with Christian teachings, according to the Human Rights Campaign's Stances of Faiths document on the denomination. Within the church, there are many advocates for changing the its stances; for instance, Rev. Frank Schaefer, was defrocked (and later reinstated) after officiating at his son's same-sex nuptials.
Fraley isn't the only gay musician to encounter employment issues in his faith community. Earlier this month, Colin Collette filed a discrimination complaint in connection with his firing from Holy Family Catholic Community in Inverness, Ill., where he was the music director for years and was reportedly dismissed after announcing his engagement to his longtime male partner.