Pennsylvania Pastor Faces Church Trial for Officiating Gay Son's Marriage
Over the weekend, Rev. Frank Schaefer joined with his supporters at Coleman Chapel in Lebanon, Pennsylvania for a candlelight vigil. No one had died: the vigil was for Schaefer himself, who is facing a church trial for officiating his gay son's wedding in Massachusetts in 2007. The Lebanon Daily News reports:
Schaefer is pastor of Zion United Methodist Church of Iona in South Lebanon Township.
"We know of a lot of churches that are doing it," said Schaefer, "but we're hoping that a lot of churches that we don't know of are doing it."
Schaeffer said the prayer vigil were not just for him but for the gay community.
"People are called upon to pray for me as I prepare for trial, for my family, but also for the LGBT (lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender) community at large, because this is for a cause. This is not just for an individual."
Schaefer could lose his ministry if he is convicted of violating church rules. The United Methodist Church allows its members to be gay, but does not recognize marriage equality or allow LGBT people to join the clergy.
According to the Daily News, a group of over 30 United Methodist pastors in Pennsylvnia who support Schaefer say they will officiate a joint same-sex wedding.
Schaefer hopes that his church will reconsider its position on homosexuality, and credits his son with changing his own views:
"Everything changed for me when I learned that my oldest son was gay," he said. "I think we need to look at this issue again. This is not just an issue of theology. This is an issue of life and death for our young people."
Schaefer said that as a teenager, his son considered suicide because of his struggle with his sexual identity.
"We, as parents and as Christians, rallied around him and affirmed him, and it brought him through some very rough times," he said.
Schaefer's trial will begin on November 18th.