Rev. Frank Schaefer of Lebanon, Pennsylvania has been defrocked (fired) by the United Methodist Church for officiating his son’s gay wedding, reports Philly.com. His defrocking has led to outrage among Christians and gay-rights activists across the country.
Here’s what you need to know about him:
1. The Wedding Happened in 2007
Schaefer officiated the union of his son, Tim, and his gay partner in November 2007 at his Zion United Methodist Church of Iona. The United Methodist Church accepts homosexual members but does not bless their unions. It was the complaint of Jon Boger, a Navy lieutenant commander which led to a trial against Schaefer, according to The Washington Post.
2. He Was Tried by Senior Members of the Faith
In November, Schaefer was put on trial by the UMC in Chester County, Pennsylvania. He was suspended for 30 days and would be welcomed back into the church if he recommitted himself to the church’s rules. On Thursday December 19 he met with a board of pastors in Norristown, Pennsylvania where the decision was taken to defrock him.
3. There’s Been an Outpouring of Support For Him
Many of Schaefer’s colleagues have come forward to support him. Rev. Robin Hynicka told The Philadelphia Inquirer:
Out of respect and out of honor of his commitment to his family, he’s done this. Talk about family values, right. Let’s give it its due.
Another pastor, Rev. Dean Snyder told The Washington Post:
This is an effort to push out people who are in ministry with gay and lesbian people. It’s very sad.
4. He Has 3 Gay Children
Three of Schaefer’s four children are gay, according to The Washington Post. He had previously stated that he would no longer go on being a “silent supporter” of gay rights. Even during his 30-suspension he offered to perform same-sex marriages.
5. He Won’t Be the Last Pastor to Be Defrocked
At least seven UMC pastors have been defrocked over officiating same-sex unions. Philly.com reports that four other pastors awaiting trial by the UMC for similar offenses, or in at least one case, being homosexual themselves. They include Rev. Steve Heiss of Upper New York, Rev. Thomas Ogletree of New York, Rev. Gordy Hutchins of Pacific Northwest, and Rev. Sara Thompson Tweedy of New York.