By Ileana Diaz and Todd Quinones
SPRING CITY, Pa., (CBS) – A Methodist minister has been suspended 30 days for officiating his son’s same-sex wedding.
The Rev. Frank Schaefer has been suspended for 30 days and he also has to agree to stop performing same-sex marriages. That is something he has told Eyewitness News that he absolutely will not do. He says he’s prepared to accept the full consequences and he believes that will lead to him at some point being defrocked.
(Quinones:) “You expect to eventually be defrocked given the verdict today?”
(Schaefer:) “I guess that’s what that means.”
Rev. Frank Schaefer and supporters held an impromptu prayer gathering after his 30-day suspension was issued. A jury made up of clergy from the United Methodist Church reached that decision late Tuesday night. On Monday, the jury found Schaefer guilty of breaking his pastoral vows for officiating his son’s same-sex wedding in Massachusetts in 2007 (See Related Story).
“The book of discipline of the United Methodist Church says that our ministers are not to officiate at same-sex weddings and they are not to be done in our churches,” Rev. Christopher Fischer, of the Council For The Methodist Church said.
Schaefer is a pastor of a Methodist church in Lebanon. At the end of his 30-day suspension, the jury also ruled that Schaefer must stop officiating same-sex marriages or surrender his ministerial duties. That is something Schaefer says he absolutely will not do, calling the Bible’s message of a man should not lay down with another man antiquated.
“That same chapter in Leviticus also calls us to not eat pork or seafood, shrimp, it calls us to stone those that commit adultery. We don’t do any of the other things,” Schaefer said.
Those that know the pastor are divided. He had a strong support system outside of where the jurors had been deliberating, but some of his church members like Christina Watson believe pastors must follow the law.
“It’s a tough one, but it was wrong and to not defrock him sends a message that would be hurtful in the long run,” Watson said.
The pastor was asked by the church to never perform another same-sex marriage, but he said he couldn’t out of love and support for his four children, three of whom are gay.
“We are proud to stand by Pastor Frank and regardless of the outcome we know this will affect many people in the LGBT community,” Clydette Overton, pastoral assistant at Iona United Methodist Church said.