A United Methodist minister’s decision to officiate his gay son’s marriage could cost him his job, ABC News reported.
A jury comprised of fellow Methodist clergy will decide if the Rev. Frank Schaefer should be defrocked for defying his denomination’s anti-gay teachings, but his supporters say the church’s teachings on homosexuality is outmoded.
“Public opinion has changed very rapidly,” said the pastor’s son, Tim Schaefer. “I hope this leads to a renewed conversation to revisit these policies to see if they are a little archaic.”
The minister pastors a church in Pennsylvania, and the marriage took place in Massachusetts.
The nation’s largest mainline Protestant denomination accepts gay and lesbian members, but rejects the practice of homosexuality as “incompatible with Christian teaching.” Clergy who perform same-sex unions risk punishment ranging from a reprimand to suspension to losing their minister’s credentials.
The issue has split the church. Hundreds of Methodist ministers have publicly rejected church doctrine on homosexuality, and some of them face discipline for presiding over same-gender unions.
Critics say those pastors are sowing division within the church and ignoring the church’s democratic decision-making process. Indeed, the denomination’s top legislative body, the 1,000-member General Conference, reaffirmed the church’s 40-year-old policy on gays at its last worldwide meeting in 2012.
The Methodists have set aside three days for Schaefer’s trial, to be held at a church retreat in Spring City, Pa.
“What is my crime? I blessed two people that loved each other,” Schaeffer told ABC News.