Pastor Feels 'Called' to Advocate Gay Rights After Church Suspension

| by Allison Geller

The Pennsylvania pastor who may be defrocked for officiating his son’s same-sex wedding has vowed to continue ministering to gay people.

Rev. Frank Schaefer was suspended for 30 days last month from the United Methodist church for his participation in his son's 2007 wedding to another man in Massachusetts. Church officials told him he could not officiate other same-sex weddings — Schaefer has other gay children — if he wanted to remain a minister. Methodist church doctrine accepts gay members, but not homosexuality as a practice.

But Schaefer refuses to voluntarily give up his credentials, or to change the way he uses them.

Schaefer said in a press conference Monday at Philadelphia's Arch Street United Methodist Church that he would not stop ministering despite the church’s decision.

"My honest answer has to be: No, I cannot uphold the Book of Discipline in its entirety. In fact, I don't believe anybody can … because it is filled with competing and contradictory statements,"

Schaefer said at a press conference that he felt "called" to advocate for gay rights.

"I have received hundreds of petitions from LGBT members, colleagues, and even three bishops, not to surrender my credentials," he said. "By surrendering my credentials, I feel as though I would abandon those under my spiritual care and especially those I feel called to advocate for."

Schaefer’s son Tim was scared to tell his father that he was gay growing up. When he finally did, Schaefer saw it as evidence that homosexuality was not a choice.

"My wife and I lost it in tears," the pastor told the Washington Post. "We hugged him. We told him we loved him so much. To me, this was definitely the proof — he did not choose this.”

Sources: MSNBC, New York Daily News, Washington Post