Pa. Pastor Faces Methodist Trial For Officiating Gay Son’s Wedding

by Winnie McCroy
EDGE Editor
Tuesday Oct 1, 2013

A Pennsylvania pastor will be forced to stand trial in front of the Eastern Pennsylvania Conference of the United Methodist Church for officiating his son's same-sex wedding six years ago. According to the Patriot News, Rev. Frank Schaefer, pastor at Zion United Methodist Church of Iona, married his son Tim and his husband in 2006, which is apparently a violation of the church's law book, the Book Of Discipline.

"The love for my son took over the fear of losing my job with the United Methodist Church," Shaefer told the Lebanon Daily News. "It was a tough decision in some sense, but I just knew I had to make it. I had to follow my heart."

Schaefer's son came out six years before the wedding in 2000, after contemplating suicide as a result of the prospect of being ostracized from his family and faith community if they learned of his sexuality, according to the Patriot. Schaefer officiated the ceremony in Massachusetts, which had previously legalized same-sex marriage in 2004. Regardless, members of his congregation filed a compliant against him -- just 26 days before the statute of limitations would have expired.

"Sadly, our church is once again being led down the path of a costly and divisive trial by a pastor who chose to disregard the prayerful and consistent teaching of our church that Christian marriage is the holy union of one man and one woman," Evangelical United Methodist Rev. Thomas Lambrech told UMC Connections. "As a father, I share Rev. Schaefer's desire to affirm his son, but there are ways of doing so that do not require a pastor to break the Discipline and the covenant that all United Methodist pastors agree to uphold."

Schaefer's trial is slated to begin on Nov. 18 at Innabah Camp and Retreat Center in Chester County. The pastor says the worst case scenario would involve his being stripped of his ministerial credentials, despite the fact that he has been ordained in the United Methodist Church since 1996.

A Facebook fan page for Schaefer has nearly 1,400 likes.

Winnie McCroy is the Women on the EDGE Editor, HIV/Health Editor, and Assistant Entertainment Editor for EDGE Media Network, handling all women's news, HIV health stories and theater reviews throughout the U.S. She has contributed to other publications, including The Village Voice, Gay City News, Chelsea Now and The Advocate, and lives in Brooklyn, New York.


  • Wayne M., 2013-10-04 20:26:37

    The truth is that Pastor Schaefer has a far better idea of Christian love and outreach than those who are dragging him up for trial before the church conference. He has a precedent on his side: It was the so-called holy religious men of Jerusalem who sought the death of Jesus.

  • Bull , 2013-10-05 00:10:15

    Ok I am a UMC Lay Servant and cannot believe this. I Book of Discipline and cannot believe that our church, who are ok with homosexual members, but they cannot only be married by a UMC Pastor the service cannot be changed in a UMC Church. THIS IS RIDICULOUS!! Also an UMC Pastor is NOT allowed to be a homosexual as they need to be "holy"... God has never said "thou shall not be with the same gender" This makes me want to start a new religion based on UMC beliefs, BUT allow homosexuals to be married, be clergy, etc. So, according to the UMC Book Discipline I should NOT be allowed to be a Lay Servant since I am Bisexual, possibly homosexual fully. I cannot believe what this book has been done... IF at all possible I am going to change this in the UMC Church. If not I may quit going to church and pray to god and worship him in my own way. This makes me rethink wanting to become a UMC Ordained Pastor, which if word gets out I will be unable to do. This really is considered discrimination and if you cannot be yourself in your own religion... WHAT IS THE POINT????

  • GAG'EM, 2013-10-05 02:53:38

    Yes, once again we see that an entire Christian denomination are ’not real Christians’ as determined by those self-hating queers who want to defend the institutions that continue to oppress them. Wake up! Really, WAKE UP!! Christianity is all about oppression in the service of power; using fear and hatred to divide and destroy those who would rebel against injustice committed against them.

  • Wayne M., 2013-10-05 10:40:30

    Once again, "Gag’em" you are tarring all Christians and Christianity with a negative brush gained by following often sensational coverage of religious figures by the media. If you took time to do research, you would find many Christians, Christian organizations and Christian churches that are LGBT positive. Your position of hostility is no different than that taken by Scott Lively toward LGBT people - and that makes you as much a bigot as he is.

  • GAG'EM, 2013-10-05 13:36:25

    Wayne, I will proudly claim the title of "Bigot" in the tradition of all the European Jews who fought against the "Good people" of Nazi Germany and the Black Americans who fought against the "Good white people" of the slave-era and Jim Crow South. All those ’bigots’ stood up against their oppressors, while those like you, Wayne, defended all the good Germans and good white Southerners. The most insidious and tragic aspect of religion is that it is so effective in brainwashing those oppressed by it (the poor, female, non-white and/or LGBT) to believe that it is really on their side when its true purpose is to keep the oppressed powerless so that the rich and powerful can prosper and thrive.

  • Wayne M., 2013-10-06 14:42:29

    Your assumption that "people like me" defended the racists in the southern states and the Nazis in German is completely false and not based on real fact. The fact is that among the first people who not only spoke against slavery but risked their lives to fight it, along with people such as the Ten Booms of Netherlands and the confessing church of German who risked their lives to fight Naziism and anti-Semitism. I stand against all bigotry, whether it is homophobia, anti-Semitism, Islamiphobia, racism or anti-Christian bigotry. I refuse to be hypocritical and say some kinds of bigotry are okay under the pre tense that they are "fighting against oppression" I am proudly Gay and proudly Christian - and I speak against bigots in both groups.

  • GAG'EM, 2013-10-06 18:50:50

    It’s great that you stand against bigotry in all forms. THAT’S something to be proud of. But it has nothing to do with Christianity.

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