Defiant United Methodist Minister Convicted of Supporting Son’s Sodomy Given 30 Days to Repent

SchaefferSPRING CITY, Pa. – A United Methodist minister from Pennsylvania has been given an ultimatum before the Eastern Pennsylvania Methodist Conference to repent of officiating same-sex ‘weddings’ or lose his ministerial license.

As previously reported, Frank Schaeffer, 51, who oversees Zion United Methodist Church of Iona in Lebanon, was found guilty on Monday of “conducting a ceremony that celebrates same-sex unions” and “disobedience to order and discipline of the Methodist Church.” In 2007, he traveled to Massachusetts to officiate a ceremony between his son Tim and Tim’s homosexual partner.

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.”

Schaeffer said that the knew what he was doing was against church law, but chose to proceed with the ceremony anyway.

“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.”

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

On Monday, following hours of testimony before a jury of thirteen fellow United Methodist ministers, Schaeffer was found guilty of violating The Book of Discipline by conducting the ceremony. On Tuesday, the hearing reconvened for the sentencing phrase, during which a defiant Schaeffer wore a rainbow stole to show his support for homosexuals.

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“I cannot go back to being silent,” he said. “I am now an advocate for LGBT people in the world and in the Church.”

Former longtime member William Bailey also testified at the hearing, stating that attendance at Zion United Methodist Church had plummeted after the congregation learned that Schaeffer had officiated the ceremony. However, he agreed that there were other matters that also caused division.

“It came to the point when we could no longer attend church there,” he said.

According to UMConnections, Paul Stallsworth of Whiteville United Methodist Church in North Carolina provided expert testimony, opining that those who violate the word of God should be “openly rebuked that other pastors may fear to do the same.”

“The penalty should be determined for the good of all,” he said.

Prosecutor Christopher Fisher, pastor of First United Methodist Church of Schuylkill Haven and director of United Methodist Studies at Evangelical Seminary in Myerstown, questioned Schaeffer as to whether or not he would repent of his actions. He refused.

“I will minister to all people equally,” Schaeffer asserted during the hearing. “We as a Church need to stop judging people, stop treating people as second-class Christians, and that is going to be my message.”

“You have heard him. He is non-repentive, unapologetic and committed to disobeying the Book of Discipline,” Fisher told the jury. “We should let him go and wish him well.”

After the jury left for deliberations, Schaeffer’s supporters began singing Were You There When They Crucified My Lord? and Shaeffer distributed communion elements to those present.

At approximately 9:00 p.m., the jury returned and issued its sentence, giving Schaeffer an ultimatum: He would be suspended for a period of thirty days, and if he will not repent of officiating homosexual “weddings” at the end of that period, he must turn in his credentials.

Shaeffer told reporters following the sentence that he will not recant.

Church trials are stated to be rare within the denomination, but the issue of homosexuality has resulted in several disciplinary hearings as of late. Three other United Methodist ministers—all from New York—are 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.

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  • Mary Waterton

    This kind of wickedness is rampant within churches of doomed Sodom America. It’s analogous to Old Testament Baal worship that crept into the Jewish Synagogues until the Spirit of God departed. If God destroy Israel, then what reason is to believe God will not destroy America for doing the same and worse?

  • Webb

    Schaefer is neither a Christian nor a pastor. They don’t need to defrock him, just take this pagan pretender off their ministerial roster and drop him from the payroll. This “church” needs to reform itself as they have many more like him, both in the pulpit and in the pews.

  • In spite of his love for his son and God, he made the wrong choice. God sacrificed His own Son for us to die on the cross for our sins. This pastor’s ultimate and only choice would have been to not conduct the marriage and obeying God’s word. As Christians we have to make many sacrifices and dismiss our own wants and desires. We are to give all to Him and follow His laws.

  • Karate Kathleen

    AT any rate, something tells me this “pastor” is not going to repent. He actually was wrong in another way. HE KNEW what was expected of him, what he promised to be as a pastor, and WHAT THE RULES OF HIS EMPLOYMENT WERE, WHAT THE RULES OF HIS LICENSURE FOR BEING A PASTOR WAS. But He went against all those things anyway! Now if he made prior agreements and then decided he would not keep them for any reason, HE SHOULD HAVE RESIGNED FIRST. Why didn’t he? He wanted to see if he could do what he decided to do and get away with it. This is WRONG. HE NEEDS DEFROCKED AND TO LOOSE HIS JOB, PERIOD.

  • Fran

    Promoting someone to remain in the sin of homosexuality is not love. Sin hurts people and destroys peoples’ lives. That’s why God hates sin. Jesus came that He might destroy the works of the Devil. Also, Jesus came to set us free from our sin, not for us to remain in it. Jesus will free people from their sin. It is not love to encourage people to stay in their sin. Do the Methodist Theological Seminaries teach the scriptures that talk about homosexuality being sin? If they do, why was not this pastor convicted and some other Methodist pastors convicted, as I’ve read about? Do the Methodist Theological Seminaries teach the born-again experience as Jesus talks about in John 3:3? I realize this man is following his current belief system , but what was taught/ not taught in seminary that this man is not convicted about the sin of homosexuality?