The Rev. Frank Schaefer, left, of Lebanon Pa., celebrates communion with supporters after the sentencing phase of the trial at Camp Innabah, a United Methodist retreat, in Spring City Pa. Tuesday Nov. 19, 2013. (Chris Knight/AP)

Brothers and Sisters,

At our annual conference session earlier this year we celebrated the visionary leadership of Bishop Gerald Kennedy who in 1963 invited to come to the West 8 Methodist pastors from Mississippi who had been condemned and ostracized by Methodists and others for standing against racial discrimination.

Among the 8 who came from Mississippi to become a part of the ministry in what is now the California-Pacific Conference were the Rev. Inman Moore and the Rev. Ed McRae. We rejoiced when these two surviving pastors stood among us this past June and shared with us a word of deep witness of what it meant to be supported and welcomed.

Bishop Minerva Carcaño

I want you to know that on this day following in the footsteps of Bishop Kennedy and with the support of his bishop, Bishop Peggy Johnson, I invited the Rev. Frank Schaefer to come and join us in ministry in the California-Pacific Conference. At this moment Rev. Schaefer and I have agreed that he will enter into a time of prayer and discernment with his wife Brigitte and their family about whether God is calling him to life and ministry in our conference.While I recognize that our brother Frank has been defrocked by those in authority in his conference, I believe that those who have acted in such a way have done so in obedience to the Book of Discipline of The United Methodist Church, an imperfect book of human law that violates the very spirit of Jesus the Christ who taught us through word and deed that all God’s children are of sacred worth and welcomed into the embrace of God’s grace. I believe that the time has come for we United Methodists to stand on the side of Jesus and declare in every good way that the United Methodist Church is wrong in its position on homosexuality, wrong in its exclusion of our LGBTQ brothers and sisters, and wrong in its incessant demand to determine through political processes who can be fully members of the body of Christ. Frank Schaefer chose to stand with Jesus as he extended love and care to his gay son and his partner. We should stand with him and others who show such courage and faithfulness.

Read more from Bishop Carcano’s statement here: Bishop Carcaño’s Invitation to Rev. Frank Schaefer.