PHILADELPHIA - The United Methodist minister punished for officiating his son's same-sex marriage will not surrender his credentials.
The Rev. Frank Schaefer, of Lebanon, addressed his future during a news conference in Philadelphia on Monday, expressing his hope to be "a voice for the LGBT community within the church."
The minister is currently serving a 30-day suspension after church jurors found him guilty of violating UMC's Book of Discipline, which prohibits ministers from overseeing same-sex unions. In 2007, Schaefer officiated his son's gay marriage in Massachusetts.
While suspended, Schaefer was permitted to keep his ministerial credentials, on the condition he uphold the discipline henceforth. But on Monday, he refused to do that, as well.
"I cannot uphold those discriminatory laws and the language in the United Methodist Church's Book of Discipline that is hurtful and harmful to our homosexual brothers and sisters," said Schaefer.
Schaefer was joined by dozens of other UMC ministers offering their support and presenting a signed petition requesting that the church no longer try ministers for officiating same-sex unions.
In response, Bishop Peggy Johnson released a statement, saying, "I will continue to try in every way, as far as it depends on me, to not have church trials." But she added "much positive attention has been given to progressive position as a result of the trial and that some would like to continue to see more trials for that reason."
Johnson also asked Schaefer and others to "pray for God's grace that we might build bridges of unity and conversation through the power of the Holy Spirit."
Schaefer is scheduled to meet with church officials Thursday to learn his fate.
Allentown, PA 18102
- Lehigh Valley Scott Olson/Getty Images