Methodists confront bishop over gay marriage trials

    Listen

    A group of United Methodist church members called on Bishop Peggy Johnson today in Montgomery County, urging her to prevent any more religious trials of ministers who perform same-sex marriages.

    Reverend Frank Schaefer was suspended earlier this week following his trial for officiating at his gay son’s wedding in Massachusetts in 2007.

    “I am frustrated. I am angry, ” Bunnie Bryant, a self-described lifelong Methodist told those assembled to confront Bishop Johnson. Bryant added that she’s among “many who call for the church to open its doors to everyone.”

    The visitors to the offices of the Eastern Pennsylvania Conference were met personally by Johnson, the Philadelphia-area bishop, in front of the building.

    Bishop Johnson responded that she hoped to avoid future trials.

    “I tried very, very, very hard to avoid this trial,” Johnson said. “I used all the means that I had to try to solve it, and I did not prevail.”

    She may soon get another chance. 

    A group of almost 40 Methodist ministers and other clergy members officiated at a same-sex wedding earlier this month in Philadelphia as a way of showing support for Schaefer.

    Reverend Schaefer has told reporters he does not expect to be reinstated at the end of his month-long suspension.

    The bishop and the petitioners finished by singing a psalm together in the parking lot.

    Want a digest of WHYY’s programs, events & stories? Sign up for our weekly newsletter.

    It will take 126,000 members this year for great news and programs to thrive. Help us get to 100% of the goal.