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Pennsylvania Pastor Convicted of Breaking Vows by Officiating Gay Son's Wedding May Be Defrocked Today


Last week we reported that Rev. Frank Schaefer of Zion United Methodist Church of Iona in South Lebanon Township, Pennsylvania was facing a church trial for officicating his gay son's wedding in Massachusetts in 2007.

Schaefer was convicted yesterday, the UMC reports:

The Rev. Frank Schaefer faces another long day Nov. 19 as a jury of ordained United Methodists decide on his penalty after finding him guilty of breaking church law by officiating at the same-sex marriage of his son in 2007.
The penalty could range from losing his ordination credentials to being suspended for a time determined by the jury.

Both Schaefer and Jon Boger, the church member who brought charges against him, were sometimes emotional as they testified Nov. 18.

Bishop Peggy Johnson, episcopal leader of the Eastern Pennsylvania Annual (regional) Conference started the trial by saying she was praying for God’s grace. “There is pain all around, there is no wonderful solution that will make everyone happy.”

The jury returned the guilty verdict at 7:10 p.m. on the opening day of the trial. They will reconvene at 9 a.m. Nov. 19.

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  1. Isn't God enough?

    Posted by: Esther Blodgett | Nov 19, 2013 11:51:42 AM

  2. Why can't Anonymous go after this parishoner? If you're going to ruin someone's life, yours should get it too.

    Posted by: Tiger | Nov 19, 2013 11:54:47 AM

  3. It's a salaried position, so I'm assuming a suspension is in order.

    Posted by: anon | Nov 19, 2013 12:03:52 PM

  4. So much for the tagline of which the United Methodist Church is so proud; "Open hearts, Open minds, Open doors" For a church that has based its entire existence on social issues -- the very reason it was founded within the Church of England -- this is particularly galling. It is shameful.

    Posted by: Alex Parrish | Nov 19, 2013 12:11:31 PM

  5. All organized religion is evil. If he's forced out against his will, I'm sorry for his sake, but leaving all religion would be the best thing for him. If they so allow him to stay, imagine if he told them "no thanks" and left on his own?

    Posted by: oncemorewithfeeling | Nov 19, 2013 12:20:04 PM

  6. If this church cannot find room for the love of a father for his son because of some rules of exclusion then the church should do the decent thing : dissolve itself.

    PS : isn't there a Church Statute of Limitations on such hoary old chestnuts ?
    And Mr.Boger, GROW UP, you only pressed this case after your mother was thrown out of the choir.......hell hath no fury than a chorister scorned ! ( cf Washington Post).

    Posted by: JackFknTwist | Nov 19, 2013 12:20:39 PM

  7. Perhaps he's not suited to be a reverend be is, certainly, a magnificent father. We should all be so lucky to have a father who puts our happiness before his own.

    Posted by: DiatribesAndOvations | Nov 19, 2013 12:20:58 PM

  8. It's a sad fact that even the supposedly more "liberal" Protestant denominations (Episcopalian, Presbyterian, Methodist) are riddled still with homophobia.

    Posted by: keating | Nov 19, 2013 12:22:35 PM

  9. This verdict will only make more people uncomfortable with membership in the United Methodist Church. Most people want their gay family members to be happy and don't like the idea of the church they frequent not accepting them.
    Way to go, UMC...

    Posted by: woody | Nov 19, 2013 12:24:53 PM

  10. Female Bishops don't support gay marriage???

    Posted by: Ankerich | Nov 19, 2013 12:36:10 PM

  11. Excuse me, Bishop Johnson, but there's pain all around this church trial?! Who's being harmed here but the pastor and his wedded gay son?? How in the hell is the church member who brought charges against the pastor "in pain"? What utter nonsense. This is a prime example of how religion can be so detrimental to humanity's well-being.

    Posted by: HadenoughBS | Nov 19, 2013 12:41:16 PM

  12. and now they're eating their own. fitting, after years of going after "others".

    don't these so-called "religious" organizations realize, once they condemn and kick out all of the "sinners", there'll be no one left? there's just no accounting for stupid.

    Posted by: northalabama | Nov 19, 2013 12:43:11 PM

  13. Let's wait to see what the punishment is going to be. The jury of clergy has tons of leeway. They could just decide to suspend him for a day.

    Posted by: Seattle Mike | Nov 19, 2013 12:49:52 PM

  14. Actually this Boger guy had his grandparents' funerals and his children baptism officiated by the pastor. He said he felt betrayed. It was his way of showing gratitude towards the pastor. Very christian.

    Posted by: simon | Nov 19, 2013 12:51:23 PM

  15. Other articles mention that Rev. Schaefer has four children, three of whom are gay. For an ordained minister not only to love, accept and celebrate his gay kids' lives is amazing and commendable - what a great dad. If he is pushed out of the Methodist Church, I'm sure he can get a congregation with a UCC, MCC or Unitarian affiliation.

    Posted by: Dave in PA | Nov 19, 2013 1:55:25 PM

  16. Clergy are not free agents; in their function as clergy they're bound to abide by their church's teachings. (Which doesn't mean they can't lobby for change when theological questions are being debated and voted upon, but everyone has to abide by the results of those decisions.) The pastor crossed the line when he presided over the marriage rather than simply witnessing it. Even if the jury does not impose a severe penalty, he would be in much more serious trouble if he ever did it again, so he might start looking for a denomination more in line with the views he's evolved.

    Posted by: Profe Sancho Panza | Nov 19, 2013 2:59:17 PM

  17. Well, of course. In the famous words of Jesus, "Love thy neighbor as thyself, unless he's a fag."

    Posted by: Nick | Nov 19, 2013 3:17:30 PM

  18. this whole story feels very medieval.
    it's like reading a newspaper from hundreds of years ago.

    Posted by: woody | Nov 19, 2013 4:40:23 PM

  19. Religions that make gay rights a line in the sand do risk complete loss of relevance if they lose, so constantly raising the stakes is probably not a good move in this political climate.

    Posted by: anon | Nov 19, 2013 4:44:53 PM

  20. He should find another denomination. He should try to take as many former parishioners with him as possible.

    Posted by: Gay Guy | Nov 19, 2013 7:57:59 PM

  21. The prescribed punishment for heresy is burning at the stake, right?

    Posted by: JonnyNYNY2FLFL | Nov 19, 2013 10:26:34 PM

  22. So, being a hateful busybody, sticking your nose in where it doesn't belong is painful? Who knew?

    You'd think it would be a less popular practice that what it is.

    Posted by: FFS | Nov 20, 2013 12:45:41 AM

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