Good News welcomes the verdict and penalty issued to the Rev. Frank Schaefer in a trial concluded November 19, 2013, for performing the same-sex wedding of his son in violation of the order and discipline of The United Methodist Church. Found guilty of performing the prohibited ceremony and of disobedience to the order and discipline of the church, the Rev. Schaefer was unapologetic. “I cannot go back to being a silent supporter, I am an advocate,” he stated during testimony regarding a potential penalty. “I must continue to speak for my LGBT brothers and sisters. I cannot repent [for performing the same-sex service]. I cannot make the statement that I will not do any more services.”
The trial court consisting of 13 ordained clergy of the Eastern Pennsylvania Annual Conference took Schaefer’s testimony to heart in their penalty. He will be suspended for 30 days, effective immediately. During that time, any violation of the Book of Discipline will result in immediate surrender of credentials to the annual conference. During the 30-day suspension, the Rev. Schaefer will be asked to discern his newly found calling to the LGBT community. If by the end of the 30 days he feels he cannot uphold the Book of Discipline in its entirety, he must surrender his credentials. The presiding officer interpreted this to mean that the Rev. Schaefer must commit to doing no more same-sex services in order to maintain his credentials.