Pastor Says He Will Minister To Gays Even If He's Defrocked

Dec 16, 2013
Originally published on December 16, 2013 7:06 pm

A Methodist minister in Pennsylvania who was suspended after defying church authorities by presiding over his gay son's wedding has vowed to continue his work as a clergyman even if he is defrocked.

NPR's John Burnett reports that the Rev. Frank Schaefer was convicted in a church trial last month of violating the Methodist Book of Discipline — which opposes gay marriage — and given a 30-day suspension.

"My honest answer has to be: No, I cannot uphold the Book of Discipline in its entirety. In fact, I don't believe anybody can ... because it is filled with competing and contradictory statements," Schaefer said at a news conference at the Arch Street United Methodist Church in Philadelphia on Monday.

"I have received hundreds of petitions from LGBT members, colleagues and even three bishops not to surrender my credentials," he said. "By surrendering my credentials, I feel as though I would abandon those under my spiritual care and especially those I feel called to advocate for."

NPR's Here & Now reported last month that at least four other Methodist pastors are facing similar charges, including Thomas Ogletree, the retired dean of Yale Divinity School.

"While the United Methodist Church does not allow same-sex marriage or gay ministers, it has also gone out of its way to affirm the dignity of gay people, and emphasized that church pastors do minister to them."

The Washington Post reported in November that a jury of 13 Methodist pastors found Schaefer guilty of "conducting a ceremony that celebrates same-sex unions" and "disobedience to order and discipline of the Methodist Church."

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