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Methodist Pastor Won't Surrender Credentials Over Gay Marriage Conviction

Frank Schaefer, who may be defrocked for officiating his son's same-sex wedding six years ago, said he wants to work with the church to 'dismantle the discrimination' against LGBT members.

Methodist Pastor Frank Schaeffer will not voluntarily surrender his credentials after officiating a same-sex wedding. Credit: Brittany Tressler
Methodist Pastor Frank Schaeffer will not voluntarily surrender his credentials after officiating a same-sex wedding. Credit: Brittany Tressler

Written by Brittany Tressler.

After his conviction at a Spring City church trial for officiating the marriage of his gay son six years ago, United Methodist Minister Frank Schaefer announced Monday that he could not uphold the United Methodist Book of Discipline in its entirety, and that he and nearly 50 Methodist clergy from Eastern Pa. want to help change the “discriminatory language and provisions” in the doctrine against homosexuals.

The decision comes near the end of a  30-day suspension handed down by the church, during which Schaefer was to decide if he could uphold all aspects of the Book of Discipline, including that same-sex marriage is “incompatible with Christian teaching.” Schaefer was reported to the body by a member of his church.

“My honest answer is no, I cannot uphold the United Methodist Book of Discipline in its entirety,” said Schaefer at a press conference at the Arch Street United Methodist Church in Philadelphia.  “In fact, I don’t believe anybody can.  It’s impossible to uphold the Discipline in its entirety because it is filled with competing and contradictory statements.”

According to Schaefer, he would like to serve as an advocate for the lesbian, bi-sexual, gay and transgender (LBGT) communities, but advocating for the community and working to change the “hurtful and harmful” language and provisions of the Book of Discipline.

Schaefer added that he would not voluntarily surrender his credentials, as demanded by the jury if he is unable to uphold all aspects of Methodist doctrine.

“I cannot in good conscience surrender my credentials voluntarily as I feel called to represent, minister to, and advocate for tens of thousands of LGBT members and their families within the United Methodist Church,” Schaefer said, adding that he was “called by God first.”

With this announcement, Schaeffer is sending the issue "back into the court" of the church. He will meet with The Board of Ordained Ministry in a closed meeting on Thursday.

“This body could decide to leave my credentials in place and affirm me as a voice for the LGBT community – a decision which would demonstrate a willingness to engage in a new dialogue and discernment process and a path toward healing,” Schaefer said. “Or the Board could decide to defrock me.”

If Schaefer loses his job, he said that denominations such as the United Church of Christ and the Episcopal Church have reached out to him about changing his religious affiliation, but his preference is to remain with the Methodist Church so that he can “dismantle the discrimination.”

Schaefer was surrounded by support at the press conference, including nearly 50 members of the Reconciling United Methodists of Eastern Pa., who will present a letter to Methodist Bishop Peggy Johnson, asking her to call an end of all discrimination in the UMC.

“We need you to boldly lead us as our bishop in our advocacy of all LGBT members in the church,” states the letter, signed by 44 clergy members and ready by Pastor Herb Snyder.  “We find ourselves in a time of turmoil over differences in opinion and theology with regard to human sexuality.”

donna Mcfarland December 17, 2013 at 10:47 AM
Your all a bunch of idiots, this pastor is trying to service all people, black, white, gay straight, transgender it doesn't matter to him why does it matter so much to all you good Christians????????
Brian H. December 18, 2013 at 07:35 PM
Oh no look out ^^^^^ We have someone here who "knows" that your opinion or beliefs mean nothing compared to theirs and they let you know by calling you "idiots." You know what makes me more sick than the spinning of the words of the BoD in the UMC? Its when people cannot get through a post without calling other posters names, like "idiots." It invalidates anything they even try to get across.
Franks N Beans December 19, 2013 at 12:24 AM
Religion never fails to entertain me. You people worship "God". Who the heck is GOD???? I've never met the man. I've invited him over for coffee and some cake or something, but he's never showed up. God?? Really. God is the "Placebo" for those people who's lives have spiral so out of control, they need someone... anyone, to take it over for them. So we pray to this "God" that we've never seen, heard, or met. But anyways, let's take a look at this "God". This is the same God who killed children, burned and toppled cities full of women and children, sent Sampson to slaughter the Philistines, and many other horrid acts. So you people basically worship Ted Bundy. Ah! But wait! There's a new main character in the "New Testament"! He's a friendlier God, and now more of a "people person". So since we were kids, we were taught about this great person who rose from the dead, turned water into wine, cured the lepers, and everything else. And even though we never met this person, our "Faith" tells us he exists because we read about him in some book that we don't know who wrote. I mean, isn't that what faith really is? Wanting to believe so badly in something, that since we have no physical proof or evidence, we rely on our "Faith". But in the new testament, Jesus never really mentions homosexuality? Yea, come on Christians, you should know that. So we now have to flip back to the old testament, where it states homosexuality is an abomination. BUT WAIT!! We're Christians!! That gives us carte blanche!! We can pick and choose what parts of the bible we want to follow!! Leviticus states that homosexuality is wrong (Lev. 18:22; 20:13). But the same Leviticus says not to eat shellfish (Lev. 11:9-12), use mixed seed or fabrics (Lev. 19:19), harvest the corners of fields (Lev. 19:9), cut your sideburns, approach God's alter with less than perfect vision, and several others. Well damn, I like shrimp, Lobster, clams..... OK, I like all shellfish. But I'm a Christian, so I can ignore that. And God killed babies. So what! I mean, babies are born every day. But those damn evil homosexuals.... they must be stopped!! Imagine, 2 men or 2 women having such a strong an undying love for each other.... It just sounds so evil. Ewww. Thank you. This has been my interpretation of "A day in the life of a hypocritical Christian". If you people wish to live your life according to some book, about some guy to the equivalent of Santa Claus, that someone we don't know wrote, I say you need help. But hey, by the way, didn't God in the old testament say "I'm a jealous God. You shall worship nothing before me." YET....... Everyday, hypocritical Christians worship this book, and live their lives according to it. Wait? Didn't God say NOT to do that? Ahhhh, the heck with it. I'm lost. I don't like or follow organized Religion. I treat everyone the way I wish to be treated. Gay, straight, trisexual, who the hell cares. If it helps you all sleep better at night believing some superhero is coming back to judge the living and thee dead, please don't allow me to piss in your cheerios.
Franks N Beans December 19, 2013 at 12:50 AM
Oh, and I forgot to mention "John Q Public" John speaks as if he actually HAS had Jesus over his house for coffee and some munchies. Maybe some finger sandwiches. Tell me John: I picture Jesus as a roast beef kinda guy. I mean, you are actually explaining how "Jesus was unambiguous about the purpose of marriage," Really? He told you this? Amazing! I can't get the guy to come over for some Starbucks, and he's explaining to you his feelings on marriage. I'm speechless. Minister Frank, what is wrong with you? How dare you give your thoughts on imaginary unverifiable Jesus teachings? John Q has to act out his hypocritical Christian views. You know how that goes: "Your a dope because you don't believe what I believe. And I know what John is going to fire back with, so let me just stop you there. You give me physical proof that this God you believe so highly of, that your willing to live your life according to the fictional stories about him, and I'll covert. I'll come to Church with you every Sunday, I'll donate 100% of my worldly possessions, I'll become a preacher to spread the good word of the Lord. But if you want to fire back at Minister Frank about he knows better than "God", then I call B.S. right now. Your opinion about God and marriage is just as accurate as Frank's beliefs. Both of them are based on Faith, and you are basically saying Frank's faith and beliefs don't mean jack to you. In a typical hypocritical Christian way.
John Q. Public December 19, 2013 at 03:15 PM
Mr. Beans, it was Jesus (who Rev. Schaefer worships as God) who said that 'God created them male and female...to become one flesh.' Both you and Rev Schaefer are free to reject Jesus's teachings on marriage, as have most of the media, Hollywood, and our President. I don't think you are a dope, just a little self righteous and a legend in your own mind. Have a Merry Christmas.

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