A pastor who officiated the wedding of his son has been suspended for 30 days. Why? Because his son married another man, and that's against the law of the church with the motto "open hearts. Open minds. Open doors."
On Monday, Frank Schaefer, a United Methodist minister, was found guilty in a church trial of breaking his vows and disobeying church law. Today, he received his sentence: no ministerial duties for the next 30 days. If he violates church law again during that time, his suspension will be permanent.
Schaefer officiated his son, Tim's, wedding in 2007. Tim, who lives in Boston, testified that he still attends a United Methodist church in his neighborhood that is "very accepting of me and my partner."
Jon Boger, a member of Schaefer's Zion United Methodist Church of Iona, Pennsylvania, didn't feel the same way, so when he found out this year that Schaefer officiated a same-sex wedding six years earlier, he reported him to the church authorities.
Boger also admitted that his mother, the longtime choir director at the church, had recently clashed with Schaefer to the point where her termination was discussed, but he said that was unrelated to his decision to file the complaint.
In Tuesday's hearing, Schaefer refused to apologize for officiating a same-sex marriage, nor would he promise not to do it again.
If anything, the trial has made Schaefer an even bigger proponent of gay rights in the church. According to Philadelphia's NBC10:
The church "needs to stop judging people based on their sexual orientation,'' he said. "We have to stop the hate speech. We have to stop treating them as second-class Christians.''
Schaefer donned a rainbow-colored stole on the witness stand and told jurors it symbolized his commitment to the cause.
"I will never be silent again,'' he said, as some of his supporters wept in the gallery. "This is what I have to do.''
This article is from the archive of our partner The Wire.