United Methodist Rev. Frank Schaefer serves communion to his supporters at the end of his two-day church trial. (Kathy L. Gilbert/United Methodist News Service.)
A minister who defied church edicts to officiate the wedding of his gay son has been officially defrocked by the United Methodist Church.
Officials from the United Methodist's eastern Pennsylvania conference met with Frank Schaefer for a mere 15 minutes Thursday morning to hand down their decision.
Schaefer, of Lebanon, Pa., had hoped the church would give him a reprieve after he publicly refused to recommit to upholding the Methodist doctrine, which specifies a ban on gay weddings. He said he would rather turn over his credentials.
"I cannot uphold those discriminatory laws and the language in the United Methodist Church's Book of Discipline that is hurtful and harmful to our homosexual brothers and sisters in the church," Schaefer 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.
Conference spokesman John Coleman said the decision to revoke Schaefer's credentials were made by the same jury that gave him an ultimatum at his trial last month.
"We also must strive to repent and forgive one another for the many hurts that have happened and are still happening as a result of this trial experience," said Bishop Peggy Johnson in a prepared statement, urging members of the church to put the incident behind them.
But even as the book is closed on Schaefer's case, the question at its heart, and the future of same-sex marriages sanctioned by the church, is still very much undecided.