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Pastor Fired for Officiating Same-Sex Marriage, Offered Job in California

Frank Schaefer, defrocked after a church trial in Spring City, feels called ‘to represent, minister to, and advocate for tens of thousands of LGBT members’ of the Methodist church.

Pastor Frank Schaefer. Credit: Patch.
Pastor Frank Schaefer. Credit: Patch.

The United Methodist pastor defrocked after being found guilty in a Spring City church trial of violating church doctrine by officiating his son’s gay marriage has been offered a job in California.

Bishop Minerva G. Carcano invited former Lebanon County pastor to service in the California-Pacific Annual Conference, which includes California, Hawaii and the Pacific Islands.

“While I recognize that our brother Frank has been defrocked by those in authority in his conference, I believe that those who have acted in such a way have done so in obedience to the Book of Discipline of The United Methodist Church, an imperfect book of human law that violates the very spirit of Jesus the Christ who taught us through word and deed that all God’s children are of sacred worth and welcomed into the embrace of God’s grace,” said Carcano, who added that the church is “wrong in its position on homosexuality."

Carcano cannot restore Schaefer’s credentials, but he would have many of the same responsibilities and rights as a minister. He would not have a tenured appointment, and he would be paid less than an ordained minister would.

"I'm actually leaning toward it right now, but I can't make that decision myself because it involves my entire family," Schaefer said, according to the Huffington Post. "We are considering it very, very seriously."

Schaefer finds himself in the job market after his credentials were withdrawn by the Eastern Pennsylvania Conference of the United Methodist Church for “disobedience to the order and discipline of the United Methodist Church,” according to a statement from the conference.

On Nov. 19, Schaefer was found guilty of violating the church’s Book of Discipline for officiating his son’s marriage to another man, and was suspended for 30 days, during which he had to decide if he could uphold all teachings of the Methodist religion.

On Dec. 16, Schaefer announced at a press conference that he is unable to uphold the United Methodist Book of Disciple in its entirety, and called for the change of “hurtful and harmful” language against lesbian, gay, bi-sexual and transgender (LGBT) members of the church.

“I cannot in good conscience surrender my credentials voluntarily as I feel called to represent, minister to, and advocate for tens of thousands of LGBT members and their families within the United Methodist Church,” Schaefer said.

At Schaefer's press conference, a group of 44 clergy from the Eastern Pennsylvania Conference presented a letter urging Bishop Peggy Johnson to acknowledge the “discriminatory” statements in the church’s doctrine.

Johnson responded, saying that LGBT members of the church are of “sacred worth,” that several statements in the Book of Discipline are discriminatory against LGBT members, and that church trials surrounding the LGBT community are “not helpful.”

Johnson’s statements did not change the fact that Schaefer would go on to lose his job, but it an encouraging sign for those fighting for LGBT inclusion in the Methodist Church.

“This is a major step toward LGBT inclusiveness and toward ending discrimination.”  Dr. Herb Snyder, Co-Chair of the Reconciling United Methodists of Eastern PA, said of Johnson’s response.

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