United Methodist minister Rev. Frank Schaefer was defrocked on Thursday for presiding at his son’s wedding to the man he loves. The punishment was handed down by the United Methodist Church in Pennsylvania. The church prosecutor requested the strong punishment to discourage other ministers from blessing same-sex marriages.
The trial and defrocking of Mr. Schaefer have not discouraged other Methodist ministers. On the contrary, it has aroused a movement of Methodist ministers to sign on to disobey church prohibitions against marrying and ordaining openly gay people.
Members of the United Methodist Church, the nation’s third-largest Christian denomination, have been battling bitterly over homosexuality for four decades. The church now faces an increasingly determined uprising by clergy members and laypeople who have refused to cede, even after losing the most recent votes, at the Methodist convention last year, on proposals to change church teaching.
“After 40 years of playing nice and attempting a legislative solution, we will not wait any longer,” said Matt Berryman, a former Methodist pastor who said he turned in his credentials because he is gay. He now serves as the executive director of the Reconciling Ministries Network, a Methodist gay rights group.
Rev. Schaefer has stated he is not considering leaving the Methodist Church for another denomination that has changed its teaching on homosexuality. “It’s not that easy when a church is your spiritual home,” he said. “All my children have been baptized in the United Methodist Church. I don’t know how to be a minister out of the United Methodist Church.”
Lawyers representing Rev. Schaefer have already filed an appeal with a church appellate court.
Rev. Schaefer's courage is admirable as is his unconditional love for his children. Rev. Shaefer has 4 children, of which three happen to be gay.
The New York Times has the full story.