First Baptist Church of Madison welcomes first openly gay pastor

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MADISON (WKOW) – Reverend Tim Schaefer became the first openly gay pastor at Madison’s First Baptist Church on Sunday.

“It was just incredibly moving and incredibly meaningful,” he said.

Schaefer has been at church for about 10 months, but his official installation service was on Sunday afternoon.

“Much of this service was an alliance between me and the congregation that we will support each other,” he said. “So in a way it’s kind of like a wedding where we swear these vows, and it touched me incredibly.”

His father, the Reverend Frank Schaefer, delivered the installation message. Frank Schaefer is a United Methodist Church pastor who was temporarily defrocked for performing his son’s same-sex marriage.

“To have a few generations of pastors is quite a special thing, and it was so significant that my father was the person to give the message to be preached here today,” Schaefer said.

Throughout the 170-year history of the First Baptist Church of Madison, the congregation is committed to building an inclusive community dedicated to social justice. Schaefer said the church openly began to affirm the LGBTQ + community in the 1990s and sees his new role as a continuation of that mission.

“It’s something that we strive to experience every day,” he said. “We can always do better, we can always work more at it, but it really speaks to this promise that we are an open and inclusive place for all.”

Schaefer received his master’s degree in divinity with a certificate in Sexual and Gender Justice from Brite Divinity School. Before coming to Madison, he was minister of youth at the Royal Lane Baptist Church in Dallas, Texas.

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