Methodist Pastor Frank Schaefer Faces Trial for Son's Gay Wedding

Rev. Frank Schaefer faces a trial for officiating his son's same-sex wedding

ByABC News
November 12, 2013, 8:57 AM

Nov. 12, 2013 -- The defrocking of a Methodist pastor for officiating his son's gay wedding would be worth the attention that his upcoming church trial has generated, the pastor's son said.

"This is getting the conversation started to revisit really discriminatory policies," Tim Schaefer, 29, told ABC News. "I think that will have made it worth it."

The fate of Schaefer's father, the Rev. Frank Schaefer, will be decided at a Methodist retreat outside of Philadelphia this Monday, six years after he officiated at Tim's same-sex marriage in Massachusetts.

Schaefer, pastor of Zion United Methodist Church of Iona in South Lebanon Township, told his superiors in the Eastern Pennsylvania Conference that he was going to perform at his son's wedding in 2007 and received no warning or reprimand. It was only this April, when a parishioner filed a complaint, that Schaefer was told he would face discipline for violating church doctrine.

Pastor Faces Trial for Son's Gay Wedding

"What is my crime? I blessed two people that loved each other," Schaefer, 51, told ABC News.

The United Methodist Church has had a 40-year policy on gays that accepts them as members in the church but rejects homosexuality as "incompatible with Christian teaching." The church's 1,000-member General Conference last reaffirmed the church's policy on gays at their last in 2012, according to The Associated Press.

Schaefer has declined the church's offer to avoid trial by agreeing not to perform another same-sex marriage.

"Jesus our Lord and Savior never mentioned homosexuality at all and my point is if it is that important of an issue, why didn't he mention it?," Schaefer said.

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Tim Schaefer came out to his parents at the age of 17.

"He had cried himself to sleep many times and he knew that this wasn't right because he heard that message from the church," Schaefer said.

"They're your children. They're you're flesh and blood," Schaefer said of Tim, one of his four children, three of whom are gay.

On Saturday in Philadelphia, nearly 50 ministers participated in a same-sex wedding at a Methodist church as a symbol of support for their colleague, Schaefer, reports the Philadelphia Inquirer.

Schaefer, a pastor for nearly 20 years, has also received support from his local church community. A Facebook page called "Stand With Pastor Frank: Support Equality" has nearly 2,000 likes.

The United Methodist Church declined to comment on Schaefer's trial when reached by ABC News.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.