John M. Becker

Methodist Church Defrocks Pastor Who Officiated At Gay Wedding

Filed By John M. Becker | December 19, 2013 5:00 PM | comments

Filed in: Living, Marriage Equality
Tags: Frank Schaefer, gay marriage, marriage equality, Methodists, same-sex marriage, spiritual bullying, United Methodist Church

frank-schaefer-closing-statement-methodist.jpgSad news today out of Pennsylvania: the United Methodist Church has officially defrocked Rev. Frank Schaefer for the "offense" of officiating at the 2007 wedding of his gay son.

The AP reports:

Schaefer was told to resign from the clergy by Thursday if he could not follow the denomination's Book of Discipline. But Schaefer says the book discriminates against gay people and says he wouldn't voluntarily surrender his credentials.

Church spokesman John Coleman says officials decided to defrock him...

Earlier this week, Schaefer said he would defy the religious order to surrender his credentials for performing the same-sex wedding.

Schaefer was told to give up his pulpit in central Pennsylvania by Thursday if he cannot support the denomination's Book of Discipline. But Schaefer, who describes the book as contradictory and biased against gay people, said he will not go quietly.

"I am actively committing to having those discriminatory laws changed and banished from our Book of Discipline," Schaefer said. "That's the only way I can reconcile being a United Methodist at this point."

Schaefer was serving a 30-day suspension for officiating the 2007 wedding of his gay son in Massachusetts, where same-sex unions are legal. Although the Methodist church accepts gay and lesbian members, it rejects the practice of homosexuality as "incompatible with Christian teaching."

Jurors who convicted Schaefer in a church trial last month said he should use the suspension time to decide whether he could follow church doctrine. They ordered him to resign from the clergy if he could not.

Schaefer gave his answer publicly Monday during a news conference at Arch Street United Methodist Church in Philadelphia, surrounded by dozens of sympathetic ministers and laity.

"I cannot voluntarily surrender my credentials because I am a voice now for many -- for tens of thousands -- of LGBT members in our church," he said then.

The Methodist Church last voted to reaffirm homophobia and preserve that church's discriminatory language against LGBT people at its General Conference in May of 2012. It is expected to revisit the issue at the next General Conference in 2016.

Kudos to Rev. Schaefer for standing up for justice, equality, and the love of his son. He's my hero for today.


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