United Methodist Rev. Frank Schaefer serves communion to his supporters at the end of his two-day church trial. Photo by Kathy L. Gilbert/United Methodist News Service

Pa. pastor Frank Schaefer won't quit voluntarily

United Methodist Rev. Frank Schaefer serves communion to his supporters at the end of his two-day church trial. Photo by Kathy L. Gilbert/United Methodist News Service

United Methodist Rev. Frank Schaefer serves communion to his supporters at the end of his two-day church trial. Photo by Kathy L. Gilbert/United Methodist News Service

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(RNS) The Rev. Frank Schaefer said Monday (Dec. 16) he would refuse to surrender his clergy credentials voluntarily and continue to perform gay marriages in opposition to his denomination’s orders.

A United Methodist pastor in Lebanon, Pa., Schaefer will meet Thursday with denomination leaders in the Eastern Pennsylvania Annual Conference to learn if he will be defrocked, or stripped of his clergy credentials. He was found guilty last month of violating United Methodist law for officiating at his son’s same-sex wedding in 2007.

Thursday marks the end of a 30-day suspension from ministry imposed as punishment, following a church trial in which Schaefer was found guilty of disobedience to the order and discipline of the United Methodist Church.

The jury ruled that Schaefer had to pledge to follow the United Methodist Book of Discipline “in its entirety” or surrender his credentials at the end of his suspension.

“My conscience does not allow me to uphold the entire discipline because it contains discriminatory provisions and language that is hurtful and harmful to our homosexual brothers and sisters,” Schaefer said in a statement.

The United Methodist Church’s General Conference in 2012 upheld the church’s 40-year-old rule that calls homosexuality “incompatible” with Christian teaching.” The church’s Book of Discipline also forbids the ordination of “avowed” homosexuals and bans clergy from officiating at same-sex marriages or holding such ceremonies in its churches.

Rob Renfroe, president of Good News -- an orthodox renewal movement within the United Methodist Church -- criticized Schaefer’s unwillingness to decide on his own to leave the ministry.

“What gives civil disobedience the possibility of being a noble moral choice is the willingness to accept the consequences for one’s actions,” he said. “Unfortunately, Rev. Schaefer has rejected that path.”

Clergy have increasingly defied church rules recently, performing same-sex marriages publicly and signing petitions calling for change. At least four other clergy face church trials, possibly next year.

Earlier this month, two female Methodist pastors married at Tibbetts United Methodist Church in Seattle. The district superintendent for the two pastors officiated at the Dec. 7 service, which drew more than 300 people, United Methodist News Service reported.

Schaefer held out hope Methodist leaders would allow him to continue in ministry. He also pledged to work toward changing the language and provisions in the Book of Discipline that discriminate against gays.

“I am hopeful that we can and will accomplish these changes,” he said. “It’s only a matter of time.”



  1. Solution: Fire him and everyone else who goes against the bibles teachings regarding marriage.

  2. If he does not like the rules of his denomination he should leave. It is sadly not about him and his own personal preferences. He can always become an Episcopalian and lead a flock of 10-15 people in a diminishing capacity.

  3. Sadly, many Americans have become spoiled brats only too willing to stamp their feet in public until they get their way. Even worse are those who condone this infantilism.

  4. Frank knows his claims about the Bible are rejected by many, many Christians and Jews. These denominations will marry same gender couples in 16 US States and the District of Columbia:

    Affirming Pentecostal Church International
    Alliance of Christian Churches
    Anointed Affirming Independent Ministries
    The Association of Welcoming and Affirming Baptists
    Christian Church (Disciples of Christ)
    Community of Christ
    Conservative Judaism
    Ecumenical Catholic Church
    Ecumenical Catholic Communion
    The Episcopal Church
    Evangelical Anglican Church In America
    Evangelical Lutheran Church in America
    Global Alliance of Affirming Apostolic Pentecostals
    Inclusive Orthodox Church
    Metropolitan Community Church
    Old Catholic Church
    Progressive Christian Alliance
    Reconciling Pentecostals International
    Reconstructionist Judaism
    Reform Judaism
    Reformed Anglican Catholic Church
    Religious Society of Friends (Quakers)
    Unitarian Universalist Church
    United Church of Christ

    It’s too bad Frank cannot accept that he isn’t the one who decides what others must believe.

  5. That describes anti-gays very well. When Americans first started working to make sure LGBT Americans would enjoy the same rights they already had, a small group of anti-gays worked to reverse those improvements. Anti-gays went so far as to cook up the dirty, unconstitutional anti-gay Hate Votes to try to force their hatred and fear of LGBT Americans onto all Americans, and as our courts and legislatures work to reverse that damage, the anti-gays are stamping their feet. Even what happened to Rev. Shaefer is a result of vindictiveness, as is demonstrated by the many years since he married his own son.

  6. Memo to the Eastern PA Annual Conference:

    A little EXCOMMUNICATION goes a long way!!

  7. Poor guy. Posting a list of worldly not Godly churches as a defense. Laugh or cry?

  8. Hey if they consider upholding bigotry a far greater goal than notions of Christian love of mankind, let them kick the pastor out.

    Get all of that out in the open so nobody mistakes the Church for people worth respecting. Better to be an honest bigot than a dishonest apologist.

  9. Propagandists for Gay “marriage” can scream “bigotry” all they want. It doesn’t change the fact that so-called “marriage” between those of the same sex is no real marriage at all and a government license or a confused clergyperson can’t make the unnatural natural or the clearly bizarre normal (except in an increasingly decadent West).

  10. We all take positions on one side or the other whether it is on the meaning of baptism, women clergy, and in this case the affirmation of homosexuality. The question we are always faced with is if we will hold true to position at the face of adversity or conform to the standard of the denomination. I am glad to see Rev. Frank Schaefer is holding true to his understanding and conviction that God loves all and I hope it forces more conversation in not only the UMC but other mainline denominations. Scripture isn’t always as clear as some make it out to be.

  11. True but sexuality and marriage is one thing that’s crystal clear.

  12. Although I give him credit for realizing that marriage between two people who love each other is right, no matter what. I found it interesting it took the love he had for his son for his for him to have the epiphany. Sort of like when Dick Chaney changed his mind on homosexuality once his own daughter came out as gay. Not judging though. Perhaps some people need it to hit very close to home before their hate gets washed away by the love they feel for that person.
    Frank, got any children?

  13. Looks to be another schism.

    Keep up the good fight Frank.

    If the United Methodist Church can’t figure out right from wrong then a schism is perfectly legitimate. It wouldn’t be the first time church leaders needed people to point out just how wrong they are.

  14. My biggest problem with these guys is that they are chosing to disobey the law so as to reform it. This is outright wrong. And i think 30 day suspension was to light. Our church can no longer be led with people seeking martyrdom by introducing unbiblical principles. BOM shld come hard on these guys. Very hard

  15. If by marriage you mean “biblical marriage” in which women were seen as property then yes it is very clear. I am not sure sexuality is that clear because our understanding of sexuality is somewhat modern. The word “homosexual” didn’t appear in the English bible until 1946. Further, the act of sodomy doesn’t constitution homosexuality. Sexual orientation is not addressed in scripture.

  16. You only need to look to the Gospels to see how the religious customs of the time were disobeyed by our Messiah. Rev. Frank Schaefer is raising up the marginalized just as Christ did.

  17. Mr. Shaefer is attemting to render the Book of Discipline null and void. For him the law of the church means nothing. His conference should discontinue his service – place him on involuntary leave and wish him well.

  18. God made them male and female be fruitful and multiply. Affirmed by Jesus.

    Man plus woman is marriage and Gods plan for sexuality. No way to dance around this eternal truth.

    Plus they understood sexuality quite well in Ancient Rome, even had gay marriages so your argument holds no water. Paul knew exactly what he was speaking about.

    And yes its no sin to be attracted to people of the same sex. That is a symptom of our fallen world. It becomes sin when someone acts on it.

  19. Jesus would say “neither do I condemn you. Go and sin no more.”

  20. When someone actively campaigns, speaks on behalf of, or supports those who desire to treat a group of people as less than worthy of basic dignity and normal living, they are bigots. You fit the bill nicely. You may not like the label but you aren’t supposed to.

    The great thing about people like yourself are they cannot be confused for anyone with something reasonable or worth consideration. You hate and you support it openly without lying about it. Much better than someone who thinks this is just some dispassionate debate among people who really respect one another and just disagree.

  21. God sent His only begotten Son that we might be forgiven our sins. He did not exclude those who fell in love with someone of the same sex. Every sin, even sin’s contemplation, is equally egregious to our perfect, sinless, Creator according to our Savior. God sacrificed His perfect Lamb that all of us might be worthy of entering His kingdom. Without this blood sacrifice in our behalf, not a single one of us would be able to receive the gift of the Holy Spirit to guide and comfort us as we journey this temporal existence.
    The acceptance of his grace and mercy is granted to all who love Him, aspire to be more like Him an are willing to take up their cross and follow Him (which none of us accomplish in total) or Christ’s sacrifice wouldn’t have been required. Thus, we are the beneficiaries of His atonement, and the recipients of both salvation and eternal life. Christ assured us that by our own words we will be judged. Christ told us to love the Lord our God with all our hearts, minds and all our strength, and to love our neighbor as ourselves.
    I am neither homosexual or bisexual, In fact, I am celibate. But the Spirit of God speaks to my heart saying that my sins are no less offensive than those mentioned above. I must not judge others unless I want to be held accountable for all the mistakes I have made.
    I treasure the atonement and believe that Jesus died not only for my sins, but for the sins of the world. I encourage Pastor Frank in his hour of hardship and his betrayal by the hierarchy of the Methodist church is sad indeed. I share his pain.
    I pray we can all look within and remove the plank from our own eye before we condemn another sinner for the splinter in his. I pray we can leave God’s judgement to God and pray for forgiveness of our own sins that result from our mortal state. Not one of us is worthy of the sacrifice Jesus made on the cross, not one of us earned it! It was a gift from our flawless and wise creator to all mankind, not to some of us. When Jesus died he said, “Father forgive them for they know not what they do”. And at the moment of His death He said, “It is finished.” He accomplished on the cross what we could never do, become worthy to walk and commune with God.
    Bless pastor Frank for his courage, his wisdom, his understanding of God’s Word and his willingness to put everything he has been, is and will be at risk to share the burden of many martyrs throughout history. As for the rest of us, please forgive us for we know not what we do….

  22. Frank Sheafer would never ever be my pastor because he broke his ordination vows when he said he knew the law of the UMC and would uphold it. He has no credibilty and will not accept accountability for his rebellion to what he vowed to uphold. I would not subject myself to the teaching and preaching of someone of his ilk. He’s an actor who says one thing and does another.

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