Penn. United Methodist Minister May Lose License for Officiating Son’s Same-Sex ‘Wedding’

schaeffer fbLEBANON, Penn. — A United Methodist minister from Pennsylvania has been summoned to stand before the Eastern Pennsylvania Methodist Conference for officiating his son’s same-sex ‘wedding’ against the denomination’s prohibitions against it.

Frank Schaeffer, 51, oversees Zion United Methodist Church of Iona in Lebanon. In 2007, he traveled to Massachusetts to officiate a ceremony between his son Tim and Tim’s homosexual partner. Massachusetts has permitted same-sex nuptials since 2004, but Pennsylvania defines marriage as being solely between a man and a woman.

“The love for my son took over the fear of losing my job with the United Methodist Church,” Schaeffer told the Lebanon Daily News. “It was a tough decision in some sense, but I just knew I had to make it. I had to follow my heart.”

Schaeffer states that when his son came to him to advise that he was struggling with homosexual temptations, he and his wife expressed their support.

“He prayed to God that God would change him and make him ‘normal’ and when that didn’t happen he became suicidal,” he outlined. “When he came out, my wife and I just loved and supported him and told him there was nothing wrong with him. I said, ‘You were created in the image of God just like everyone else.’”

However, some in Schaeffer’s church was not so supportive when they learned that their shepherd had officiated over the ceremony. One member filed a complaint with the Eastern Pennsylvania Conference just before the statute of limitations ran out.

As a result, Schaeffer could have his credentials revoked, and could consequently be prohibited from serving in a ministerial capacity–whether temporarily or permanently.

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A hearing is set to take place on November 18th at the Innabah Camp and Retreat Center in Chester County, where retired bishop Alfred Gwinn will preside over the meeting. Christopher Fisher, pastor of First United Methodist Church of Schuylkill Haven and director of United Methodist Studies at Evangelical Seminary in Myerstown, will serve as prosecutor.

As previously reported, the United Methodist Book of Discipline outlines that “the practice of homosexuality is incompatible with Christian teaching” and that “self-avowed practicing homosexuals” may not be ordained as ministers in the denomination. It also forbids ministers from hosting or participating in “ceremonies that celebrate homosexual unions.”

However, during a number of regional conferences, resolutions have been passed that challenge the doctrine in the Book of Discipline. Last year, a number of conference attendees expressed support for a declaration entitled the “Statement of Gospel Obedience,” which asserts that the United Methodist Book of Discipline is wrong to denounce homosexual behavior.

But in an article entitled Why Many Methodists Still Oppose Same-Sex Marriage, John Lemperis, the Director of the UM Action program of the Institute on Religion and Democracy, said that the Bible is crystal clear on the matter.

“Even liberal Biblical scholars now agree that the Old and New Testaments are very clear in their moral disapproval of homosexual practice,” he wrote. “More fundamentally, Scripture paints a beautiful picture of marriage as a holy covenant of intensely intimate, self-giving community between man and woman, uniting the two most basic, equal categories of humanity.”

“We submit to Jesus as Lord,” Lemperis stated. “If He is truly Lord, then no area of our lives can be off-limits to Him. Jesus spoke strongly about the centrality of self-denial in following Him, which often means dramatic personal sacrifices, including not acting on powerful desires for things outside of God’s best for us. … Jesus and new life in Him are more than worth it.”

Three other United Methodist ministers–all from New York–are also set to stand before regional conferences at future dates. Stephen Heiss and Thomas Ogletree are accused of officiating same-sex ceremonies, and Sara Thompson Tweedy is charged with coming out as an avowed and practicing lesbian.

Photo: Facebook/Zion United Methodist Church of Iona

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  • Eri

    This is unacceptable.Your to put God first,then your wife and children then yourself.Not to follow your heart.Which if you remember correctly is evil.Do you not read the Holy Scripture in which you preach Mr.Schaeffer ?
    It does not mean you stop loving your son.But to tell the Gospel as it truly is.And of course we are to love our fellow human beings and to deal peaceably with all mankind.But we are not told to compromise because our hearts tell us to.Following The LORD GOD is not about feeling or following the sinfulness of our hearts.Which scripture states is desperately wicked. As it is written in Jerimiah 17:9
    “The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked: who can know it?”

    • Ian

      Great! So, you love your son, just not this teeny-weeny intrinsic part of who he is that was given to him by God.

      • God comes first Ian. Gale Sayers wrote a book called “I am Third”. God is first, my family second, and I am third. If we put God first, then we follow his word and laws. Plain and simple, written in the bible.

      • nKhosi

        Ian- The Lord G_D- YHWH- did not give any part of this to his son. YHWH can not do what is evil, HE has shown that HE does not change. And HE has declared these behaviors to be nothing less than totally evil! Moses wrote what YHWH told him to write in Leviticus 18:22, and Paul quoted this passage in 1st Corinthians 6:9&10 as he was talking to the church in Corinth- a very wicked city- and a church that allowed sin to be in the midst of the body.

        Moses wanted to see HIS face- and YHWH told him that as a sinful man, for him to see HIS face was to be destroyed, not just death! So HE covered Moses within a cleft of the rock with HIS hand until HE had passed by – and allowed Moses to see his back- and even HIS back was so holy that Moses face glowed so brightly that he had to wear a cloth so as not to blind the other Hebrews when he went down the mountain!

  • Calvin

    This man is a failed parent. He’s neither a pastor nor a leader of a church. Schaeffer is a goatherd in charge of a goat-barn. For that matter, he’s not even a Christian, but rather a liberal religious person. Wrong is right, and right is wrong. “And every man did what was right in his own eyes”.

  • “Beloved mentor in AA clinic may lose position for handing the car keys to his drunken son…” What’s the difference here?

    • The difference Dean is he took an oath to follow the Word of God, and the doctrine of the Methodist church. They are NOT to marry or have anything to do with same-sex unions.

  • M Adams

    Methodists should really know better than simply to argue from Scripture. The Wesleys drew upon Scripture, tradition, reason and experience in making arguments about moral issues. Yes, the Bible fairly clearly condemns homosexuality, but then, the Bible also fairly clearly upholds slavery (see the household code in Ephesians, as well as the laws concerning slavery in the Pentateuch). Until the 17th century, tradition also upheld slavery as a flawed but legitimate institution (see what Augustine and Aquinas have to say about it). The Quakers used experience (the horrors of the slave trade as practiced in the West) and reason (arguing that the practice of slavery is incompatible with the Biblical love command) to argue against Scripture and tradition. And their reasoning prevailed. So we should be engaging in a similar process today to discuss the issue of gay marriage. Simply arguing from Scripture or tradition isn’t enough. If it were, we’d still have slavery today.

  • Excellent! I like to think that if Jesus was here in the flesh today, He would be breaking bread with gays, the lrepes of the 21st century. Just as He was criticized in His day by the Pharisees and the self-righteous, these are the same critics of inclusiveness today. Jesus stated plainly that He came, not for the righteous, but for the sinners. Close the Church’s doors to sinners, and well who ya got left?The UMC has always had an open invitation to their Communion table, and in recent years has promoted the concept of Open Hearts, Open Minds, Open Doors. To me, anything less would be un-Christian. I will always welcome anyone into my United Methodist Church, no matter where they come from. We all want to get to the right place, and we are called to help each other on the journey.