US Methodist pastor Frank Schaefer defrocked over son's gay marriage

PUBLISHED : Saturday, 21 December, 2013, 12:07am
UPDATED : Saturday, 21 December, 2013, 12:07am


Methodist officials have defrocked a pastor from the US state of Pennsylvania for violating church doctrine by officiating at his son's gay marriage, leaving the minister shocked and upset that he could be punished for an "act of love".

Frank Schaefer immediately appealed against the penalty, which he believed was meted out reluctantly by many members of the regional board of ordained ministry.

"So many of them came to me and they shook my hand and some hugged me, and so many of them had tears in their eyes," Schaefer said. "They said, 'We really don't want to do this, you know that, don't you'?"

Board members declined to comment after the private meeting at church offices, but John Coleman, a spokesman for the eastern Pennsylvania conference of the denomination, said Schaefer left officials no choice after defying the order of a religious jury to resign.

Schaefer has led a congregation in the town of Lebanon for more than a decade.

Earlier this year, a church member filed a complaint over him performing the 2007 wedding of his gay son in the state of Massachusetts, where same-sex unions are legal.

The Methodist church rejects the practice of homosexuality as "incompatible with Christian teaching" and bars clergy from performing same-sex unions.

Last month, a church jury suspended Schaefer for 30 days and said he should use the time to decide whether he could uphold the church's Book of Discipline. If he decided he could not, he was told to resign.