Rev. Frank Schaefer was a United Methodist minister in a small Pennsylvania town until he was put on trial in the church for officiating the same-sex wedding of his eldest son. Schaefer was given a choice – vow to never again preside over a same-sex wedding, or lose his credentials as a minister. Three of his four children are gay, so Frank knew that he could make no such promise. After giving him 30 days to reconsider his stance on gay marriage, the United Methodist Church officially defrocked Rev. Schaefer in December 2013. An Act of Love will follow Frank, his family, and the continuing struggle over LGBT inclusion in the United Methodist Church.
Schaefer’s story traveled quickly, igniting an international news frenzy. He appeared on The View, CNN, MSNBC, the CBS Evening News, and countless regional news outlets. With the news spotlight on him, Schaefer went from being a small-town minister and silent supporter of LGBT rights to an outspoken LGBT activist with a national platform. His weekends are now booked solid with speaking engagements at churches and rallies around the country. His goal: to change the rules he deems to be discriminatory in the United Methodist Book of Discipline, which prohibit the ordination of LGBT people and forbid ministers from performing same-sex marriages. “My message is an appeal to all LGBT members, as well as their friends and supporters, to remain in the United Methodist Church because we’re taking our church back … We’re at a tipping point, and we can work for changes,” Schaefer proclaimed.
Meanwhile, Schaefer and his family must adjust to the spotlight, which brings just as many critics as it does supporters. John Lomperis, who oversees the Methodist program at the Institute on Religion and Democracy, criticized Schaefer and his supporters, saying “A secularized, liberal faction unlovingly drives out more conservative, biblically-grounded members in order to seize power. Then when there is accountability for a church leader’s blatant wrongdoing, there is all this sympathy for the unfaithful shepherd.”
Rev. Frank Schaefer in the News
The United Methodist Church has become increasingly divided over the issue of homosexuality. Rev. Schaefer joins the ranks of other defrocked ministers like Jimmy Creech and Beth Stroud, while other ministers await trials of their own. An Act of Love will track the history of the church's battle over LGBT inclusion by interviewing several of these ministers and other activists in the church, and by exploring the ever-changing rules in the Book of Discipline.
Bishop Minerva G. Carcaño of the California-Pacific Conference has offered Schaefer a ministerial position in her district, an offer he is seriously considering. In regards to the church, she has said, “People are stepping up and expressing what they feel in ways I have not seen before. It is a moment of real possibility for change in the church.”
How you can help:
Even a small donation of $1 or $5 (roughly one Frapuccino) helps us get to our goal and gets our campaign more attention, so no matter how much money you can give it really does make a difference!
In addition to donating, here are some quick things you can do to help:
Things that take 30 seconds:
- Post our Kickstarter link on your Twitter, Facebook, and other social media pages and tell your followers why you think the film is important. Don’t forget the hashtag #anactoflove.
Things that take 15 minutes:
- Share our campaign with your pastor and ask him or her to play our fundraising video in your church on Sunday morning.
- Send a personal message to your friends and family asking them to support the film.
- Write you favorite blogs or news sites and ask them to post about the film (don’t forget the Kickstarter link!).
- Make a short video using whatever camera, webcam or phone camera you have on hand and state in 1-2 sentences why you think this is an important film. Upload to YouTube and annotate with the link to our Kickstarter (or just put the link in the description). Tag the video with #anactoflove.
- If video isn’t your thing, you can also take a picture with a sign or a caption stating why you support the film.
- Have a product you'd like to donate as a reward for our campaign? Let us know by emailing email@example.com! The more things we have to offer our supporters the better.
About The Filmmakers
Director/Producer/Editor - SCOTT SHEPPARD
Scott Sheppard was raised the son of a small-town United Methodist pastor in Michigan. He has a personal history with the UMC and an intense interest in exploring the church’s changing views on homosexuality and other social issues. He comes from a long line of Methodist ministers and missionaries, and he chronicled much of that history in his feature documentary Planes, Trains & Autorickshaws.
As an editor, he has worked on documentaries, shorts, commercials, PSAs, and sizzle reels for directors such as Antoine Fuqua (Training Day), Jesse Dylan (American Wedding), and Andrew Solt (Imagine: John Lennon). He has edited projects for Showtime, Canon, TEDx, GOOD, Wondros, Open Society Foundations, American Heart Association, Elvis Presley Enterprises, and many more. He has a Bachelor’s degree in Film and Video Production from Grand Valley State University and currently resides in Los Angeles.
Producer - KATE S. LOGAN
Kate Logan grew up in Michigan in a liberal household, at the age of 12, she became a born-again Christian out of pure rebellion. With one foot in the world of contemporary Christian rock-singing evangelicals and the other in her parents merlot-drinking academic circles, Kate learned how to understand people from both sides of the so-called culture wars. She has since come a long way from her evangelical experiences, and her unique perspective and voice lends itself to translating the nuances of contemporary faith movements to a non-religious audience. Her ability to speak the language of evangelicals while maintaining an unbiased perspective is what gave her the unprecedented access film at a controversial Christian reform school for her debut documentary Kidnapped For Christ, which recently won the Audience Award for Best Feature Documentary at the 2014 Slamdance Film Festival.
Kate has also worked as the field producer and narrator of the LJ Aryeetey feature-length documentary Haiti: The Sleeping Giant. Haiti was featured at the 2010 Pan African Film Festival where all the proceeds from went to earthquake relief in Port-Au-Prince. She then went on to work with the independent distribution team that brought Simpsons actor Harry Shearer's film The Big Uneasy to theaters. Recently, Kate has worked on Showtime's controversial documentary on the infamous gangster rap mogul Suge Knight, directed by Antoine Fuqua, as well as the upcoming Independent Lens/PBS documentary One in a Billion. She lives in Los Angeles with her husband Ben and dog Macy.
Executive Producer - PAULEY PERRETTE
In addition to being one of the top Q-rated actors in television and film, and currently on her eleventh season playing Abby on the #1 TV show, NCIS, Pauley Perrette is also a producer and director. Her latest work was producing and directing the documentary Citizen Lane about the life of legendary civil rights attorney, Mark Lane.
Pauley is a life long civil rights advocate. She has lent a strong and persistent voice as a straight ally for the LGBT community and has worked tirelessly for local, federal and international LGBT equality.
Pauley is also a proud member of the United Methodist Church. She is the voice of many of UMC movements, from Imagine No Malaria to the church's strive for full inclusion and acceptance of all within the church. Closely following the plight of all LGBT equality issues, the story of Rev. Frank is one that she believes needs to be told. An Act of Love is the documentary that will tell this important story.
Executive Producer - MIKE C. MANNING
Mike isn’t only an actor, but has broken into the world of independent film producing and TV writing. He was most recently seen starring in the Disney Channel Original Movie Cloud 9. His role as Nick Swift played well to Manning’s strengths and interests in extreme sports and snowboarding.
Manning was an executive producer on the award-winning Kate Logan-directed film Kidnapped for Christ. Before that he produced a variety of projects including: Black Hearts (Actor, Producer), The Passion Project (Producer), Campsite Killer (Writer, Actor, Producer), and Youthful Daze (Actor, Producer).
Mike has a heart for non-profit work and after working as a lobbyist in Washington, DC, became involved with a handful of charities in Los Angeles. His hope is to create meaningful art that will push for positive social change within the US and around the world.
What we need:
This campaign is to raise funds for production only – we will likely run another campaign for post production, in addition to seeking grants and investments.
$50,000 Production Expenses – Including camera operators, on-set audio, equipment purchase and rental, insurance and small stipends for the director and producer so we can work on this project full time and get the film done within one year.
$15,000 Travel Expenses - This film will require extensive travel across the US to follow Frank as he speaks to diverse groups and lobbies for change in the United Methodist Church. We will also need to travel to interview his family, members of his former church, experts, and others in the UMC.
$7,500 - Kickstarter and Amazon Payment fees
$2,500 - Reward Fulfillment
If you are interested in making a tax-deductible donation, please email: firstname.lastname@example.org.
Also be sure to visit www.anactoflovefilm.com
Risks and challenges
We anticipate that it will take us 1 - 1.5 years to complete this film, if all goes as planned. However, both Scott and Kate know that with films, especially documentaries, complications are bound to arise. Our team has experience filming all over the world, working on shoe-string budgets, editing on tight schedules, and overcoming unexpected challenges. So, we are confident that we can complete this film within a reasonable timeframe and budget.
At the moment our biggest hurdle is securing the funding necessary to pay for our travel, equipment rentals and purchases, basic living expenses and production staff (outlined above). Kickstarter and YOU are part of the solution to that problem. Should we run into unanticipated expenses, go over budget or beyond our initial schedule - we have plans in place to raise additional funds through private grants and donations throughout the production and post-production process.Learn about accountability on Kickstarter
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