ALEXANDRIA, Ind. - A dispute is dividing an Alexandria church after a former church leader said he was pushed out of the church because of his sexual orientation.
To Adam Fraley’s surprise, more than half of the historically conservative congregation stood by his side and left the church.
Fraley was the choir director at First United Methodist Church. He said he feels discriminated against because he is gay.
"He doesn't know me at all to think that he decided that I was incapable of being in this position because of my sexuality really was hurtful. I tried to pretend like it wasn't quite as much but it really was hurtful," Fraley said.
Dave Steele has attended the church since the 1950s. He said his family and others have left because the new minister will not rehire Fraley because he is gay.
"It’s a very hurtful time and our wish is somehow to reconcile the situation," Steele said. "Methodist church is archaic in their view and there needs to be a change from the top."
The Indiana Conference of The United Methodist Church spokesman Dan Gangler said there is no church rule preventing Fraley from serving.
"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," Gangler said.
Steele said that interim Minister David Mantor told him and other board members that allowing Fraley to lead was not biblically sound.
Fraley said he is speaking out on behalf of the next kid growing up in rural Indiana.
"Who is struggling with their faith, who's thinking I'm gay but I'm a Christian and I'm not supposed to be, because that's what I've always been told. I hope that people realize that you can be both," Fraley said.
Gangler said church leaders are working on a resolution. He added that Fraley initially quit, but it was the decision of the church leaders to not rehire him.