Create Profile

Creating your profile will enable you to submit photos and stories to get published on News24.

Please provide a username for your profile page:

This username must be unique, cannot be edited and will be used in the URL to your profile page across the entire 24.com network.

Facebook Sign-In

Hi News addict,

Join the News24 Community to be involved in breaking the news.

Log in with Facebook to comment and personalise news, weather and listings.


Gay wedding: US pastor suspended

20 November 2013, 11:50

Spring City - A United Methodist minister from southeastern Pennsylvania who was convicted under church law of officiating at his son's same-sex wedding ceremony was suspended for 30 days on Tuesday and told he will lose his credentials if he violates any of the church's rules in that time.

The same jury of fellow pastors that convicted Reverend Frank Schaefer on Monday of breaking his vows told him he must surrender his credentials if he can't reconcile his new calling to the gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender community with the laws from the church's Book of Discipline.

Schaefer told reporters afterward that he had no intention of changing his mind and said he expects to lose his credentials in 30 days.

Before the punishment was announced, Schaefer, who was convicted for officiating at his son's 2007 wedding ceremony in Massachusetts, told the jury on Tuesday that he is unrepentant and refused to promise he wouldn't perform more gay unions.

Rather than beg for mercy, the pastor upped the stakes.

‘Stop hate speech’

The church "needs to stop judging people based on their sexual orientation," he told jurors. "We have to stop the hate speech. We have to stop treating them as second-class Christians."

After the jury pronounced its sentence, Schaefer's supporters began overturning chairs in the courtroom — symbolising the biblical story of Jesus overturning the tables of the money changers — and held an impromptu communion service.

Schaefer's trial rekindled debate within the nation's largest mainline Protestant denomination over church policies on homosexuality and same-sex marriage. The denomination accepts gay and lesbian members, but it rejects the practice of homosexuality as "incompatible with Christian teaching."

Schaefer donned a rainbow-coloured stole on the witness stand and told jurors it symbolised 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."


Jon Boger, who filed the initial complaint against Schaefer, was outraged by the pastor's recalcitrance. The career Naval officer grew up in Zion United Methodist Church of Iona, the church that Schaefer has led for 11 years.

"Frank Schaefer sat here and openly rebuked the United Methodist Church, its policies, standards and doctrines," Bolger said when called as a rebuttal witness. "He should no longer be in service as a minister of the United Methodist Church, not at Iona, not anywhere else."

Earlier on Tuesday, the Methodists' prosecutor called former members of Schaefer's church who said his conduct split the congregation, and experts who said the punishment should serve as a deterrent to other like-minded clergy.

Christina Watson said her family left Schaefer's church because they no longer wanted to be "subjected to the preaching and teaching" of Schaefer.

"To me, it wasn't a good Christian example for ministers to say it's OK to break the rules of your church," she testified.

The Rev Paul Stallworth, who leads a United Methodist task force on sexuality and abortion, testified that church law requires jurors to "openly rebuke" Schaefer so that fellow clergy will think twice before breaking it.

Change of heart

Schaefer had previously testified that he performed his son's 2007 wedding out of love, not a desire to flout church teaching on homosexuality.

But Tuesday's testimony made clear he has had a change of heart.

"I have to minister to those who hurt and that's what I'm doing," said Schaefer.

The prosecutor, the Rev Christopher Fisher, invited Schaefer to "repent of your actions" and pledge never again to perform a homosexual union.

"I cannot," Schaefer replied.

His son, Tim Schaefer, told jurors he knew he was putting his father in a difficult position by asking him to officiate his wedding. But he concluded he would hurt his father's feelings if he didn't ask.

Schaefer said he hoped his father's trial would start a larger conversation in the denomination.

- AP

Tags us gay rights

Read News24’s Comments Policy

Comment on this story
1 comment
Comments have been closed for this article.

Read more from our Users

Nigeria @ 56: Words to my green f...

A leader’s job is not to dictate, but rather to be respected, admired and be a trustee, of the land we love, with so much potential, a land which should be freer than free. Its still a long way to fufilling our destiny! Read more...

Submitted by
Isaac Asabor263
Recession: An opportunity for Nig...

The recession should be seen as an opportunity for the country’s promotion as long as we all collectively conduct ourselves in a patriotic manner, writes Isaac Asabor.  Read more...

Submitted by
Black and White

We want to imitate the whites in everything because we are ignorant of our inherent originality and content. We spend all our Naira to acquire his inventions because we so oblivious of our natural endowments that we allow him have it for free. Read more...

Submitted by
Nate Nat
Adamawa State University Mubi: A ...

ADSU integrity forum has accused the Sunday Joshua Wugira, a lawyer, of adopting unorthodox tactics by abusing his privilege by attacking the integrity of ADSU Vice Chancellor Dr. Moses Zira Zaruwa, writes a News24 reader. Read more...

Submitted by
Abdulsalam Jubril
My Country Nigeria (Part One)

Poetry by Abdulsalam Jubril.

Submitted by
Abdulsalam Jubril
Recession, dearth in leadership a...

Every leader has the opportunity to become great and making himself immortal in the lives and hearts of people for generations to come. Will Mr. President seize this opportunity?, questions Abdulsalam Jubril. Read more...