SPRING CITY, Pa. — A Pennsylvania Methodist pastor has been disciplined for violating the church’s rules by performing a same-sex marriage.
The Rev. Frank Schaefer, who was convicted by the United Methodist Church after officiating his son's wedding, was given a 30-day suspension from the church, according to the Associated Press. He was “told he will lose his credentials if he violates any of the church's rules in that time,” AP reported
But Schaefer may lose his credentials whether he violates the rules or not. The jury of pastors who convicted Schaefer told him he would have to surrender his credentials if he doesn’t change his mind about officiating weddings for the “gay lesbian, bisexual and transgender” community, according to AP.
He doesn’t plan on changing his mind.
“I can no longer be silent. Now I have to be an outspoken advocate. I will not refuse ministry to anyone,” Schaefer told The Patriot News.
Pastors from the United Methodist Church showed support for Schaefer yesterday, according to The Patriot-News.
After Schaefer received his penalties, “scores of United Methodist pastors overturned chairs, sang hymns and held an impromptu communion in a makeshift courtroom Tuesday night,” The Patriot-News reported.
Schaefer’s trial toward the end of October sparked many pastors across the United Methodist Church to officiate gay marriages, according to a Deseret News article.
William Lindsey, a theologian who writes about culture, blogged about Schaefer, and said the pastor is giving strength to others by speaking out.
“Because, in speaking out, he makes it harder for injustice to abound in the world in which we live today,” Lindsey wrote. “Because, in speaking out, he gives hope and strength to others. Because, in speaking out, he makes solidarity with others so that one small voice soon grows to a loud crescendo calling for justice.”
Not everyone is in support of Schaefer. A blogger at Notes From the Pastor's Office said he thought the UMC's decision on Schaefer was fair.
"While Rev. Schaefer did this for different reasons, his actions constitute civil disobedience," wrote Pastor Christopher Tiedeman. "Civil disobedience is a form of protest where the one who is disobedient is willing to accept the consequences of their actions, whether or not they believe the consequences are just."
The recent Schaefer scenario led to one writer at The Montreal Gazette to wonder if Schaefer’s role in society may be broader than just being a pastor for the United Methodist Church. Jillian Page said some churches would accept Schaefer with “open arms” to spread his message.
“And there are books to be written, and TV and radio talk shows upon which to appear to share the essential message of love,” she wrote. “In fact, he might be reaching many more people than he ever imagined when he first answered the call to serve.”