Methodist minister who performed same-sex marriage will not step down voluntarily

The United Methodist minister who officiated at the wedding of his gay son says he will not step down voluntarily from his post in Pennsylvania.

The Rev. Frank Schaefer is currently under a 30-day suspension to consider whether he can uphold the Methodist rulebook in its entirety.

Schaefer said he has concluded that he cannot.

“I cannot uphold those discriminatory laws and the language in the Methodist Church’s Book of Discipline that is hurtful and harmful to our homosexual brothers and sisters in the church,” Schaefer said Monday morning in Philadelphia.

“I cannot voluntarily surrender my credentials,” he continued, “because I am a voice now for many, for tens of thousands of LGBT members in our church.”

The pastor of a congregation outside Harrisburg performed his son’s wedding in 2007. His suspension was handed down after a church trial last month. By saying he will not surrender his credentials, he raises the stakes for his appearance before the Methodist board of ordained ministers on Thursday.

Bishop Peggy Johnson of the Northeastern conference wrote that she cannot respond before that meeting takes place, saying that, “I cannot anticipate, prejudge or comment on what may or may not happen once Rev. Schaefer officially reports his decision.”

The United Methodist Church accepts gay and lesbian members, but they are not allowed to be ordained and the church prohibits same-sex marriages.

If the church does expel Schaefer, he said he will consider joining a different denomination.

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