When Reverend John Drees took over as the new pastor of a Taylor Falls, Minn. Catholic church in July, the parish was enthusiastic. But on Dec. 10, Drees posted a note on the church bulletin that three gay musicians — including a married couple— “will also no longer be playing music at our Masses.”
He would not elaborate to a reporter who pressed him for explanation. Two of the musicians were paid and one volunteered, according to the Pioneer Press. One worked with St. Joseph for 16 years.
A week after the news broke, the church was packed with supporters crowding the front-row pews.
“There were some people who I perceived would not be supportive, who turned out to be supportive,” said Bob Bernard, one of the fired musicians.
While protesters rallied outside the church, there was no confrontation within, just singing.
Weeks before that, Drees told Bernard his marriage to another man went against the church’s canon. While Bernard has tried discouraging members from leaving St. Joseph, that did not stop trustee Julik-Heine from resigning.
“Bob is a remarkable guy, and he’s going to church every Sunday. He’s keeping the faith, and his faith is deep. And it’s remarkable,” he told the Press.
The majority of the church’s parishioners disagreed with Drees’s decision. Forty-year church member and parishioner Chris Hudspeth said, “It was more of a justice thing, more of a ‘where is our church going, if we’re kicking people who are living their faith and sharing their music ministry with us?’’