Pasadena Pastor Claims Dismissal from Seminary Over LGBTQ+ Beliefs

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Pasadena Pastor Claims Dismissal from Seminary Over LGBTQ+ Beliefs

PASADENA, Calif. – Ruth Schmidt has expressed that she was dismissed from her senior director role at Fuller Theological Seminary in Pasadena, alleging a conflict over LGBTQ+ advocacy.

According to Schmidt, the divergence emerged from the seminary’s community guidelines, which she felt contradicted her supportive stance on LGBTQIA+ rights. “That’s when the rubber met the road and I was like, ‘I’m getting ordained this year, my ordination vows are going to be to affirm gay marriage. I cannot wait to marry gay folks,'” Schmidt disclosed to Eyewitness News.

Journey and Challenges

Schmidt’s background includes growing up in a conservative church and later transitioning to Fuller to explore various theological queries, such as women’s leadership roles and the acceptance of LGBTQ+ individuals within the church. She highlighted a course on human sexuality and ethics as particularly influential, marking a significant point in her understanding of queer theology. “He laid out all of the gorgeous queer theory around theological reasons why it is not only OK to be gay and lead a church, it’s actually beautiful,” Schmidt reminisced.

Despite encountering support for the queer community within the seminary, Schmidt noted a stark contrast with the institution’s formal policies. Fuller Theological Seminary has maintained silence on the matter, citing privacy reasons, and reiterated that community standards are communicated to students and staff from the start.

Encountering Institutional Standards

The seminary’s guidelines specifically define sexual relations as activities to be confined within heterosexual marriage. Schmidt, who agreed to these terms initially as a student and later as a staff member, expressed surprise and ethical dilemmas when asked to reaffirm her commitment in 2022. “That was when I was surprised by the document, and I was given three weeks to sign it,” she mentioned.

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Schmidt’s attempt to negotiate these terms through a legal amendment allowing for religious freedom was ultimately rejected. Following this, there was a rallying of community support for her in January.

Looking Forward

The seminary has mentioned an ongoing period of reflection on sexuality matters. Meanwhile, Schmidt remains optimistic, advocating for dialogue and inclusivity within Christian education: “I want the board at every Christian school to be aware that we’re not in opposition with them. We’re actually looking to work with them, and we don’t want special treatment, but we do want equality,” she stated.

Schmidt hopes for an apology to the queer community from Christian institutions and is committed to contributing to this dialogue. Reflecting on the broader implications, she pointed out, “There are Christians who are queer, silently suffering at Christian schools all over America, and we need to be talking about it.”

Now affiliated with the United Church of Christ, Schmidt continues her pastoral journey at an institution that embraces LGBTQ+ rights and is looking forward to her ordination.

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