Pennsylvania pastor defrocked after performing gay wedding

National

Pennsylvania pastor defrocked after performing gay wedding

Posted:

By KATHY MATHESON
Associated Press

NORRISTOWN, Pa. (AP) - United Methodist church officials defrocked a pastor from central Pennsylvania on Thursday who violated religious doctrine by officiating his son's gay wedding and then, after being suspended, defiantly refused to resign.

The Rev. Frank Schaefer met briefly with the Board of Ordained Ministry at church offices in suburban Philadelphia. Schaefer apparently made good on an earlier vow that he wouldn't voluntarily surrender his credentials as ordered by a religious jury.

Officials had no choice but to terminate his ministerial office, church spokesman John Coleman said afterward.

"When asked to surrender his credentials as required by the verdict, he refused to do so," Coleman said. "Therefore, because of his decision, the board was compelled by the jury's decision to deem his credentials surrendered."

Schaefer left the building without commenting. He planned to hold a news conference Thursday afternoon at a Methodist church in Philadelphia where an associate minister was defrocked in 2005 for being in a lesbian relationship.

Last month, a church jury suspended Schaefer for 30 days for performing 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" and bars clergy from performing same-sex unions.

The issue has split the nation's largest mainline Protestant denomination amid a rapid shift in public opinion. Same-sex marriage will soon be legal in 16 states, and opinion polls show that a majority of Americans now support it. Hundreds of Methodist ministers have publicly rejected church doctrine on homosexuality, and some of them face discipline for presiding over same-sex unions. Last month, in a public challenge to church rules, a retired Methodist bishop officiated at a wedding for two men in Alabama.

Most other Protestant denominations have decided their position on the issue one way or another. But the Methodists, with about 7.7 million members in the U.S. and many more members overseas, remain divided. At their last national meeting in 2012, delegates reaffirmed the church's 40-year-old policy on gays.

Jurors who convicted Schaefer said he should use the suspension time to decide whether he could uphold the church's Book of Discipline. If he decided he could not, he was told to give up his pulpit in Lebanon by Thursday.

Schaefer gave his answer publicly Monday during a news conference in Philadelphia, surrounded by dozens of sympathetic ministers and laity. Schaefer described the Book of Discipline as contradictory and biased against gay people, said he would not go quietly.

"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.

___

Associated Press writer Michael Rubinkam and AP Religion Writer Rachel Zoll contributed to this report.

Copyright 2013 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

  • Email Alert Sign Up

    Sign up here to receive breaking news stories from KSWT.com and morning updates to your email inbox.

    * denotes required fields


    Thank you for signing up! You will receive a confirmation email shortly.
Go to KSWT-TV's Facebook page
  • Most Popular StoriesMost Popular StoriesMore>>

  • Storm hits Yuma, Phoenix could be next

    Storm hits Yuma, Phoenix could be next

    More than 1,600 households lost power in Yuma late Thursday afternoon.More >>
    More than 1,600 households lost power in Yuma late Thursday afternoon.More >>
  • Woman who lost power arrested in generator theft

    Woman who lost power arrested in generator theft

    Deputies in Mohave County say a Kingman woman whose electricity had been turned off has been arrested after a stolen generator and other items taken from a neighbor were found in yard.More >>
    Deputies in Mohave County say a Kingman woman whose electricity had been turned off has been arrested after a stolen generator and other items taken from a neighbor were found in yard.More >>
  • Doug Ducey, Scott Smith lead Arizona governor race

    Doug Ducey, Scott Smith lead Arizona governor race

    Arizona's six-way Republican governor's primary is widely seen as a contest between Mesa Mayor Scott Smith and Arizona Treasurer Doug Ducey.More >>
    Arizona's six-way Republican governor's primary is widely seen as a contest between Mesa Mayor Scott Smith and Arizona Treasurer Doug Ducey.More >>
  • Oregon gunman planned to kill 'bunch' of people

    Oregon gunman planned to kill 'bunch' of people

    Friday, August 22 2014 4:15 PM EDT2014-08-22 20:15:29 GMT
    A gunman who fatally shot his father and then a man camping at an Oregon beach earlier this week left behind notes that said he was mentally ill and planned to "kill a bunch of other people" and then himself.More >>
    A gunman who fatally shot his father and then a man camping at an Oregon beach earlier this week left behind notes that said he was mentally ill and planned to "kill a bunch of other people" and then himself.More >>
  • Drug tunnel found in Mexicali

    Drug tunnel found in Mexicali

    Mexicali--Mexican police found a partially constructed drug tunnel near the U.S. border in Mexicali. Police said the tunnel was presumably being built by drug traffickers. Mexicali's police chief saidMore >>
    Mexican police found a partially constructed drug tunnel near the U.S. border in Mexicali. More >>
  • Possible drowning

    Possible drowning

    On Sunday the Blythe Police Department received a call regarding a missing 10 year old boy in the vicinity of the Colorado river and the Interstate 10 bridge. The call came out shortly after two in the afternoon when his parents lost sight of him as he swam in the river. The Blythe Boat Patrol searched the river and even called inn CHP and Care Flight Helicopters for aerial support. The search went on until night fall and it was the called off. The child was not found; and is believed that he...More >>
    On Sunday the Blythe Police Department received a call regarding a missing 10 year old boy in the vicinity of the Colorado river and the Interstate 10 bridge. The call came out shortly after two in the afternoon when his parents lost sight of him as he swam in the river. The Blythe Boat Patrol searched the river and even called inn CHP and Care Flight Helicopters for aerial support. The search went on until night fall and it was the called off. The child was not found; and is believed that he...More >>
  • Advertise with KSWT

    Advertise with KSWT

    Why Advertise on KSWT? Advertise your business with KSWT and discover a unique and powerful way to reach thousands of people in Yuma, Imperial Valley, Mexicali, San Luis & Algodones . Not only will advertisingMore >>
    KSWT is here to help you promote your business. Advertise with us today! Click here for information.More >>
  • Crime Watch

    Police investigating dead body found in parked car

    Police investigating dead body found in parked car

    YUMA, Ariz. (13 On Your Side) - Yuma police say a dead woman was found in a car parked at Food City on 8th Street on Tuesday night, at around 6:20 p.m. Police are investigating her cause of death andMore >>
    Yuma police are investigating the death of a woman who was found in a parked car Tuesday night.More >>