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Midstate pastor defrocked over same-sex wedding

Written by The Associated Press | Dec 19, 2013 10:06 AM
frank_schaeffer3.jpg

Photo by AP Photo/Matt Rourke

Accompanied by his wife Brigitte, right, the Reverend Frank Schaefer, center, departs after a meeting with officials at the Eastern Pennsylvania Conference of the United Methodist Church, Thursday, Dec. 19, 2013, in Norristown.

(Norristown) --  A United Methodist pastor from Lebanon County has been defrocked for officiating his son's gay wedding in Massachusetts in 2007

The Reverend Frank Schaefer of North Cornwall Township had already been suspended.

Today, he met with church officials to determine whether he would continue as a pastor. 

Schaefer was told to resign from the clergy by today if he could not follow the denomination's Book of Discipline. But he 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. 

Schaefer left the short meeting with church officials without commenting but planned to address the matter later today.

Earlier this week, he 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 Lebanon County today 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."

frank_schaeffer5.jpg

Photo by AP Photo/Matt Rourke

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.

This story has been updated on 12/19/13  at 10:30 a.m.

(Philadelphia) -- A Methodist pastor from Lebanon County is about to find out whether he'll be defrocked or allowed to continue his ministry.  

The Reverend Frank Schaefer of North Cornwall Township has been suspended for officiating a same-sex marriage, which violates church doctrine. He's scheduled to meet with Methodist officials this morning in Norristown.  

Schaefer was told to resign from the clergy by today if he could not follow the denomination's Book of Discipline.  

He calls the book discriminatory and says he won't voluntarily surrender his credentials, and hopes the church has a change of heart.  

Schaefer has planned a news conference in the afternoon. It will be held at a Methodist church in Philadelphia where an associate pastor was defrocked in 2005 for being in a lesbian relationship.  

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