NORMAN — Frank Schaefer will appeal the outcome of a trial last year that stripped him of his life-long vocation as minister of the United Methodist Church.
The former minister in Lebanon, Pa., was suspended Nov. 18 for 30 days by a jury of pastors for officiating at the same-sex marriage of his son in Massachusetts. A month later, he was defrocked after refusing to promise to never perform another same-sex marriage.
He immediately said he would challenge the defrocking. Arguments will be heard today in Baltimore by the Committee on Appeals for the Northeastern Jurisdiction of the United Methodist Church, with a decision expected as early as Saturday.
“We felt very strongly that the penalty, my defrocking, was really not in line with the church’s law,” Schaefer said Wednesday. “What they based the defrocking on was a promise to not perform another gay marriage. You can’t punish someone based on something they haven’t done yet. You can’t defrock on a promise.”
Schaefer said he continued to devote himself to the Methodist church and would like to continue his life as a minister.
“I devoted my life to this church and I see great potential in this church, except the strong language against homosexuality,” he said. “This is a great church. And I have vowed, even when I was defrocked, that I would fight from within the church.”
He hopes that if the decision is in his favor, it will symbolize a greater change in the church.
The proof of how harmful the church’s outlook on homosexuality is lies in his son, he said. The younger Schaefer told his father that he considered suicide before coming out to his parents when he was 17, because of the conflict he felt between his religious beliefs and his sexual orientation.
“I was silent for too long,” Schaefer said. “I will not refuse ministry to anybody based on their sexual orientation. We have to stop harming beloved children of God.”
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