Tyler Schwaller

ThD student, Harvard Divinity School


Recently, I have begun writing a series for the Iowa Methodist Federation for Social Action examining how the Bible is read in church and church debates, especially toward shaping policy and a vision for ministry. The initial article opens with my cynical suspicion that nobody actually cares what the Bible has to say but that most are more invested in how scripture’s authority lends weight to religious-social-political arguments. This is substantiated by evidence plainly visible in debate. From here we must ask:

  • Do we actually care about the Bible?
  • How do we care?
  • How can we read and deploy scripture in ways that build up rather than tear down the church?

My first article is published in the Fall 2010 Iowa MFSA newletter — “Social Questions Bulletin” (SQB) — and is entitled “Who Cares about the Bible?”  To read the newsletter, click here, or download a PDF of my essay:

“Who Cares about the Bible?” (Tyler Schwaller, SQB fall 2010)

The second article of the series now appears in the Spring 2011 Iowa MFSA “SQB.” Once the full newsletter is online, a link will be provided. The essay itself can also be downloaded in PDF form:

“Who Cares about the Bible? Part 2” (Tyler Schwaller, SQB spring 2011)


For my final paper in the class on United Methodist polity at Harvard Divinity School, I wrote about the ethical considerations of ordination for lesbian and gay United Methodists. Since the church’s current policy is not to ordain “self-avowed practicing homosexuals,” persons who are LGBT face a potential ethical dilemma if they feel called to ordination. However, it is my contention that the church must also bear ethical responsibility for how its polity automatically excludes the full participation of faithful LGBT folks in the church. This shift of focus allows lesbian and gay candidates for ministry to consider, not whether ordination is “right” but whether it is personally and spiritually good for them.

Queering Ethics, Ordination, and Church


Soon I will be posting some sermons I have delivered in my home congregation of Coon Rapids First UMC (Coon Rapids, Iowa), as well as during my field education experiences at Harvard, which included work at Cambridge Welcoming Ministries and Harvard-Epworth UMC.

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