The United Methodist pastor who was stripped of his credentials Thursday for officiating his son's gay wedding has vowed to appeal the church's decision.
The Rev. Frank Schaefer, of Lebanon, Pa., was defrocked by a jury of the Eastern Pennsylvania United Methodist conference who had demanded he recommit to hewing to church doctrine -- including the refusal to perform same-sex weddings.
Schaefer refused. But he also refused to accept their decision without a fight.
I said to myself, 'I just cannot see them take my credentials.' I mean, what I did was an act of love for my son," Schaefer said Thursday.
"It's one thing to talk about the possibility and another to experience it," he said. "Today, I could really feel what it felt like to be excluded."
William Ewing, Schaefer's attorney, said the appeal would focus on Schaefer's refusal to step down.The jury did not have the right to strip him of his credentials if he did not hand them over himself, Ewing said.
Schaefer was found guilty last month of violating United Methodist law for officiating his son's wedding in Massachusetts in 2007.
Schaefer's defiance of church doctrine is the latest salvo in Christianity's internal war over how to deal with a society increasingly liberal on the issue.
Advocates have grown increasingly active, including a same-sex wedding presided over by more than 50 ministers at the Arch Street United Methodist Church in Philadelphia.
"I still am a minister in my heart, and I will continue to minister," Schaefer said. "I will continue to be a voice for the LGBT community."