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U.S. Pastor Who Performed Son's Gay Marriage Defrocked

posted 19 Dec 2013, 15:20 by Mpelembe   [ updated 19 Dec 2013, 15:21 ]

A Methodist pastor who was defrocked after he refused to agree never to perform another gay marriage ceremony says he will appeal the church decision.

PHILADELPHIA, PENNSYLVANIA, UNITED STATES (DECEMBER 19, 2013) (NBC) -  An embattled Methodist pastor who conducted his son's same-sex wedding ceremony was defrocked on Thursday (December 19) after he refused to vow to never perform another gay marriage.

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The fate of Reverend Frank Schaefer, pastor of the Zion United Methodist Church in Lebanon,Pennsylvania, was decided by a United Methodist church board in a closed-door session in a church office located in a suburban Philadelphia office park.

Schaefer told reporters at a press conference on Thursday afternoon that he was "shaken" by the decision.

"I said to myself, I just can't see them take my credentials," said Schaefer. "I mean, what I did was an act of love for my son. And they did anyhow."

Schaefer was defrocked less than a month after he was found guilty in a church trial of violating church law by performing the ceremony for his son, Tim, in 2007.

He was sentenced by a church jury, made up of pastors, to a 30-day suspension and ordered to resign by Thursday if he could not uphold church doctrine, which is outlined in the United Methodist Book of Discipline.

Schaefer has been publicly defiant since then, saying immediately after the verdict that he would not change his mind and that the rules discriminate against gay people.

The clergy board acted on Thursday morning in a brief 15-minute session attended by Schaefer after he refused to comply with the verdict.

Schaefer said he was not angry with the board or the church, but he was "upset at the exclusionary policies."

"I'm upset at the exclusionary policies that we have in place, and we must change those policies," said Schaefer. "Now that I feel the effect of those exclusionary policies, finding myself outside of the church, outside of my calling to minister in this church, it doesn't feel good."

Schaefer said despite his defrockment, he would continue to fight for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender rights within the church.

"I will continue to be in ministry and I will continue to proclaim God's truth that we need to include everybody in our church, homosexuals included."

Schaefer plans to begin an appeals process that could continue into 2015.

Bishop Peggy Johnson has acknowledged that several statements in the Methodist Book of Discipline on gay issues are discriminatory, specifically those forbidding ordination of homosexuals and forbidding pastors from conducting same sex marriages.