United Methodist pastor defrocked over same-sex wedding

by | Dec 20, 2013 | Best of!

Here is a story from the L.A. Times about The Rev. Frank Schaefer, a pastor from Pennsylvania who had refused to comply with the church’s law barring gay marriage. He plans to appeal the decision by the elders to “defrock” him for officiating his son’s homosexual marriage ceremony.

Frank Schaefer

Former United Methodist pastor Frank Schaefer embraces the Rev. Lorelei Toombs during a news conference after the church announced its decision to defrock Schaefer for performing a same-sex marriage. (Matt Rourke / Associated Press / December 19, 2013)

By Tina SusmanDecember 19, 2013, 7:13 p.m.

NEW YORK — Frank Schaefer had prepared for the worst, but his voice shook Thursday as he described how it felt to be defrocked by the United Methodist Church after he refused to comply with its law against same-sex marriage.

“I guess I took it harder than I thought I would,” Schaefer said shortly after a private meeting in which church officials demanded that the pastor from Lebanon, Pa., surrender his credentials. “I was prepared for it, but it’s traumatic.”
Schaefer, who officiated at his son’s marriage to another man in 2007, appealed, setting the stage for a drawn-out battle over an issue that has put the United Methodist Church at odds with some of its clergy and with public attitudes toward same-sex marriage.
As Schaefer was being defrocked Thursday, New Mexico was becoming the latest state in the country to permit same-sex marriage. Seventeen states and the District of Columbia now recognize gay marriage, and Americans who accept it have increased from 35% in 2001 to about 50% now, according to the Pew Research Center.
But the United Methodist Church’s Book of Discipline does not, and clergy who are openly gay or who perform gay weddings are violating church law. Schaefer, 52, said he could not abide by a law “that is hurtful and harmful.”
In a statement, Bishop Peggy A. Johnson of the United Methodist Church’s Eastern Pennsylvania Conference said Schaefer’s actions left church officials no choice but to oust him after 17 years as an ordained minister.