The judicial council of the United Methodist Church reinstated the Rev. Frank Schaefer with back pay and benefits.
Schaefer, who spoke in Dallas earlier this year, was charged with performing his gay son’s wedding. The trial court convicted Schaefer but the decision was overturned on appeal. His sentence was based on Schaefer’s refusal to say he would never conduct another same-sex wedding. Schaefer couldn’t make that promise because he has two other gay children. In throwing out the appeal, the church’s court ruled that a minister can’t be defrocked for something he may do in the future.
After Schaefer’s conviction, many more Methodist ministers spoke out in favor of marriage equality. In Dallas, the Rev. Bill McElvaney announced at Northaven UMC that he would perform same-sex weddings and he recruited Jack Evans and George Harris to be his first gay couple to marry. A complaint was filed against McElvaney and resolved. McElvaney passed away this summer.
Schaefer has been working on a documentary about his ordeal. Advance footage included scenes from his sermon at Cathedral of Hope and his appearance on KNON talk show Lambda Weekly.
Since this summer, Schaefer has been working at the Isla Vista Student Ministry in Santa Barbara.