Methodist minister gets 30-day suspension for marrying son to man

Nov. 20, 2013 at 12:11 AM
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SPRING CITY, Pa., Nov. 20 (UPI) -- A jury of Methodist ministers gave a 30-day suspension Tuesday to a Pennsylvania pastor who officiated at his son's wedding to another man.

The Rev. Frank Schaefer was told that if he wants to remain in the United Methodist ministry he cannot perform same-sex weddings and must follow the church's teachings on homosexuality, WCAU-TV in Philadelphia reported. The church admits homosexuals to membership but says homosexuality "is not compatible with Christian teaching."

The jury found Schaefer guilty Monday of violating church teaching. Tuesday's proceedings were the penalty phase.

Schaefer, who has been pastor of Zion United Methodist Church of Iona in Lebanon, Pa., for 11 years, suggested he was unlikely to change course. He wore a rainbow stole as he testified Tuesday.

When the Rev. Christopher Fisher, the prosecutor, urged him to promise not to perform gay weddings, Schaefer replied, "I cannot."

"I have to minister to those who hurt and that's what I'm doing,'' Schaefer also said.

Former members of his congregation said they felt Schaefer had split the group.

"To me, it wasn't a good Christian example for ministers to say it's OK to break the rules of your church,'' Christina Watson testified, explaining why her family left the Lebanon church.

Schaefer said after the proceedings that he fully expects to be out of the Methodist ministry soon.

The trial was held at a retreat center in Spring City, Pa.

Tim Schaefer was married in 2007 in Massachusetts, the first state to legalize same-sex marriage. He said he asked his father to perform the ceremony because he did not want to hurt him.

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