Methodist pastor appeals his defrocking

A United Methodist pastor defrocked after officiating at his son’s same-sex wedding is awaiting the word of a church panel that will decide whether he should be reinstated.

Frank Schaefer, of Lebanon, went before the nine-person appeals panel in Maryland on Friday and asked it to overturn the decision that stripped him of his credentials six months ago.

“I’m hoping the panel will look at the law and come up with a just decision,” Schaefer said after the hearing.

Schaefer’s attorney argued the punishment went against church law because it was based on the assumption that he would break church law in the future.

Schaefer, 52, says he was not punished for officiating his son’s 2007 marriage in Massachusetts, but because he refused to promise he would never perform another same-sex wedding.

Attorneys for the Eastern Pennsylvania Conference argued that Schaefer’s punishment was justified because he performed the marriage and indicated he could not uphold church doctrine.

Schaefer said his reinstatement would be a win for a bigger cause.

“It will have an impact,” he said. “This would make a great symbolic gesture and sign for the church that the church is considering change.”

The church panel has 20 days to make a decision, but a ruling could come as early as this weekend.

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