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First Baptist Church of Madison welcomes its first openly gay pastor

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tim schaefer first baptist church of madison

MADISON (WKOW) -- Rev. Tim Schaefer became the first openly gay pastor at First Baptist Church of Madison on Sunday.

"It was just incredibly moving and incredibly meaningful," he said.

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

"A big part of that service was a covenant between myself and the congregation that we will support each other," he said. "So, in a way, it's a little bit like a wedding where we swear those vows to each other, and that was so incredibly moving into me."

His father, Rev. Frank Schaefer, gave the installation message. Frank Schaefer is a pastor in the United Methodist Church who was temporarily defrocked for performing his son's same-gender wedding.

"Having a couple of generations of pastors is a pretty special thing, and that was so meaningful to have my father being the person to give the message to preach here today," Schaefer said.

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

"That is something that we strive to live out each day," he said. "We can always do better, we can always work on that more, but that is really a testament to that promise that we are an open and inclusive place for all people."

Schaefer earned his Master of Divinity degree with a certificate in sexual and gender justice from Brite Divinity School. Before coming to Madison, he was the Minister to Youth at Royal Lane Baptist Church in Dallas, Tx.