KUTZTOWN, Pa. - The local pastor defrocked last year after officiating his son's same-sex marriage and refusing to promise not to officiate other gay marriages is now sharing his story at churches and conferences all across the country.
"I'm speaking in a different place every week, and it feels great to still be active and be able to bring my message of inclusion and love everywhere," said Shaefer.
The former pastor spoke with 69 News at Kutztown University on Friday, where he was a keynote speaker during an annual conference on human diversity.
Attending the conference were students and university members, as well as people from the local community.
"I just want to support him and support the voice and what he's standing for," said Sue Marie Basket, clergy member with the United Church of Christ in Kutztown.
"I just feel that it's important to be here… and let people know that there is a welcoming space within spiritual life, within the religious faith," she said.
Although the United Methodist Church does not reject members of the LGBT community, the church prohibits clergy from officiating same-sex marriage, per the church's "Book of Discipline."
It's a law that Schaefer hopes to change while remaining a member of the UMC church. He plans to appeal the church's decision and regain his credentials, despite receiving offers to preach within other Christian denominations.
"I leave all that on the table because I don't know where this is going to end up for me, so I'm appreciative of it," said Schaefer. "But for right now I'm really committed to bring change to my own church, the United Methodist Church."
Schaefer was found guilty in December 2007 following a church trial. He officiated his son, Tim's, same-sex union in Massachusetts in 2007. He was defrocked after he refused to promise the church that he wouldn't officiate any more gay marriages.
Allentown, PA 18102