Rev. Frank Schaefer has been tried and was found guilty, by a United Methodist Church jury, of violating church law by officiating at the wedding of his son and another man in 2007. The decision was handed down by a jury consisting of 13 pastors and two alternates after listening to testimony. That same jury will now decide what punishment Rev. Schaefer will receive for his brave and loving actions in support of his son.
This is not the first time the Methodist Church has found a minister guilty of violating church law by supporting marriage equality. In 1999 Jimmy Creech, an ordained elder in Nebraska, had his clergy accreditation taken away after presiding at gay weddings. Rev. Greg Dell was suspended for a year, also in 1999, after presiding over a gay wedding in Chicago. Then in 2011, Rev. Amy DeLong, a lesbian clergywoman, was suspended for a month after presiding at the nuptials of a lesbian couple.
“Maybe I compromised my ritual purity,” Schaefer testified at the trial. ”It is what Jesus called me to do for the sake of love.”
“Sadly, the UMC continues to place legalism over love, the (Book of) Discipline over Jesus,” tweeted Methodists in New Directions, the New York Conference’s affiliate of Reconciling Ministries Network.
“I’m not surprised by the guilty verdict,” said Creech, who lives in Raleigh, N.C. “It was a foregone conclusion. The penalty will be much more interesting. I’m hoping the clergy on the jury will act with compassion and reason. If they are punitive to Frank, it will be a sign that LGBT members are not welcome in the church.”
Religion News Service has more on the story.