Two months after he was defrocked for officiating at his son’s same-sex wedding, a Central Pennsylvania pastor spoke at a Philadelphia church. Rev. Frank Schaefer of Lebanon served as the guest speaker at the United Methodist Church of Germantown Sunday morning.
Schaefer previously served as pastor of the Zion United Methodist Church of Iona in Lebanon County. He was suspended from his position for 30 days in November of last year for officiating his son’s gay wedding in Massachusetts back in 2007.
Although the Methodist church accepts gay and lesbian members, it rejects the practice of homosexuality as “incompatible with Christian teaching.” Schaefer’s decision to officiate the wedding was seen as contradictory to church teachings.
After his suspension, Schaefer refused to surrender his credentials and said he could not follow the denomination’s Book of Discipline. Schaefer argued that the book discriminates against gay people. Schaefer was defrocked on December 19, 2013.
"I am upset and I am disappointed, but I’m not upset at people or at my colleagues, or at the church people, I’m upset at the exclusionary policies that we have in place, and we must change those policies," Schaefer said. “I’m here to tell you that I will not give up the fight. I am still a minister in my heart and I will continue to be a voice for the LGBT community."
On Sunday, Schaefer spoke at the United Methodist Church of Germantown. The church has welcomed homosexual members since 1990. A former assistant pastor at the church, Beth Stroud, was also defrocked ten years ago after she came out as a lesbian and was stripped of her credentials by church leaders.
“I believe that the church can change and will change,” said Lorelei Toombs, the current Senior Pastor of the church. “I also believe that there is room and movement for there to be people within the church that continue to witness to the pain that it has caused by the way we represented ourselves to the world in this point in time.”