Methodist Pastor Defrocked After Officiating Same-Sex Wedding for Son

Image: Methodist Pastor Defrocked After Officiating Same-Sex Wedding for Son

Thursday, 19 Dec 2013 06:42 PM

By Ken Mandel

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Methodist pastor Frank Schaefer was defrocked Thursday by church officials for officiating his son's gay wedding.

Schaefer, of Lebanon, Pa., was serving a 30-day suspension for presiding over the 2007 wedding of his gay son in Massachusetts, but Thursday's meeting was held to determine whether he'd remain a pastor. Faced with resigning from the clergy if he couldn't adhere to the order's Book of Discipline, Schaefer refused, saying the book discriminates against homosexuals.

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When he wouldn't voluntarily leave, he was defrocked. The meeting with the board at the Norristown, Pa., offices of the church's eastern Pennsylvania conference lasted just 15 minutes, according to The Philadelphia Inquirer. Schaefer declined to comment as he left.

Schaefer hoped the Board of Ordained Ministers would permit him to keep practicing, and thereby make him a symbolic figure for gay rights in a denomination split over its ban against same-sex marriages and gay clergy.

The board was asked simply to decide whether Schaefer had accepted an order to maintain Methodist doctrine. Later on Thursday, Schaeffer appealed the verdict, church spokesman John Coleman told the Inquirer.

Schaefer is the father of three gay children, and has promised to continue advocating for change.

"I cannot uphold those discriminatory laws and the language in the United Methodist Church's Book of Discipline that is hurtful and harmful to our homosexual brothers and sisters in the church," he said at a news conference on Monday at Philadelphia's Arch Street United Methodist Church, according to the Inquirer.

As states continue to approve same-sex marriage, religious leaders continue to weigh in on the issue. Though Pope Francis remains against homosexual marriage, the new pontiff believes he's in no position to judge how someone lives his life.

"If someone is gay and he searches for the Lord and has good will, who am I to judge?" Francis said in July, in response to a question regarding the sexual orientation of priests. "We shouldn't marginalize people for this. They must be integrated into society."

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