Earlier this week a United Methodist minister in Pennsylvania was found “guilty” of officiating at his son’s wedding to a man. Now he’s been sentenced by the church to a 30-day suspension.
Frank Schaefer, 51, the pastor at Zion United Methodist Church of Iona in Lebanon, Pennsylvania, was found guilty by a jury of 13 ordained clergy members on two counts: officiating a same-sex wedding and being disobedient to the discipline and order of the church, according to Cathy Husid-Shamir, a Schaefer family spokesperson. Schaefer received a concurrent 30-day suspension for both counts. If he does not uphold the church’s discipline after the suspension, he must surrender his credentials, according to Husid-Shamir. The jury had full power in determining Schaefer’s penalty, which could have ranged from a reprimand to a full defrocking. “I’m obviously relieved to receive a lighter penalty than defrocking,” Schaefer said in a statement to CNN after receiving his sentence. “I gave the jury every excuse to take my credentials when I was honest with them and said that I must continue to serve all people — no exceptions.”
The church had told Schaefer he could avoid a trial entirely if he’d just promise to never conduct another gay wedding. He refused.