Pastor to Face Church Trial Over Officiating At Same Sex Marriage

By Dave Warner

PHILADELPHIA (Reuters) – A Methodist pastor accused of violating the denomination’s teachings by officiating at a same-sex marriage was set to face a church trial on Monday in rural Pennsylvania.

The trial for Rev. Frank Schaefer, who in 2007 officiated at the wedding of his son Tim and another man, was expected to last two days at a church camp near Spring City, Pennsylvania.

According to an article of an official Methodist blog, the trial is the first of its kind since 2012 when the church’s governing body affirmed its stance that homosexuality is incompatible with Christian teachings.

But it is at least the eighth trial in the past 20 years of a member of the clergy accused of violating church law by performing a same-sex marriage or by acknowledging being gay, the blog report said.

The United Methodist Church has some 12 million members worldwide.

Schaefer is pastor of the Zion United Methodist church in Lebanon, Pennsylvania.

In the blog article, Schaefer was quoted as saying his son had prayed “that God would change him and make him normal and when that didn’t happen he became suicidal.”

“When he came out, my wife and I just loved and supported him and told him there was nothing wrong with him,” he said in the blog.

Deciding to officiate at the wedding, he said: “I knew I was putting my career, my ministry, on the line, but in another sense it was easy because my heart told me I had to do this.”

The wedding was held in Massachusetts, which in 2003 became the first U.S. state to permit gay marriage.

The church trial features a presiding officer, prosecutor, defense and 13 members who act as a jury, the blog said.

Potential punishment for Schaefer could range from suspension to revocation of his ordination credentials.

(Editing by Ellen Wulfhorst and Maureen Bavdek)

Print Friendly, PDF & Email