Methodist Pastor Suspended After Conviction
We reported here a few days ago about United Methodist Church pastor Reverend Frank Schaefer’s trial on charges of performing a same-sex marriage ceremony for his own son. The pastor was awaiting a church jury’s decision at that time. Since then, the charges against him have led to a “conviction” and he has been suspended from his duties as pastor of a Methodist church.
The Washington Post reports that a jury of 13 Methodist pastors found Schaefer guilty on two charges: “conducting a ceremony that celebrates same-sex unions” and “disobedience to order and discipline of the Methodist Church.”
During the course of his “trial”, which has nothing to do with the U.S. Justice System or has any legally-binding effects outside of the church, Schaefer was offered a chance to “repent” of his actions and accept a reprimand from the church, but to keep his standing as a minister. He refused.
Scahefer’s journey with his son has changed his opinions and thoughts on same-sex marriage over the years. Now 3 more of his own children have revealed to their parents that they are gay.
But another interesting revelation in the reporting of the circumstances around the Schaefer “trial” is that four other Methodist ministers have been accused by church leadership of similar violations of official church policy regarding gays and marriage. What the particulars of those accusations are remain to be seen, but they could result in trials just like Schaefer’s.
The issue of same-sex marriage has proven to be a divisive one over the past several years, but much of that battle has remained in secular circles. Now, with many states legalizing same-sex marriages, the battle is moving into churches, where individual members are realizing that many of them know and are close to someone who is gay.