United Methodist Church Pastor Frank Schaefer will hold a
press conference on Monday in Philadelphia to announce the next steps in
his punishment after being tried and convicted by a church jury for
violating his position after
he officiated his gay son’s wedding ceremony in 2006.
The press conference, to be held at Arch Street United Methodist Church on Broad Street, will include a group of UMC pastors who will present a new petition to Bishop Peggy Johnson, asking her to call an end for all discrimination in the UMC and to declare a moratorium on same-sex marriage trials. The petitions is supported and co-sponsored by the Reconciling Untied Methodists of Eastern PA.
Schaefer was convicted on Nov. 19 of violating the church’s Book of Discipline, which does not permit same-sex marriage. His punishment was a 30-day suspension, during which he must decide if he can uphold all aspects of Methodist teachings, including the belief that homosexuality is “incompatible with Christian teaching.”
Shaefer said that he was honest with the jury during his trial, and that he must “continue to serve all people – no exceptions.”
“It's a matter of conscience,” Schaefer said in a statement after the trial. “I simply cannot discriminate against God's beloved children.”
Johnson previously came out in support of gay rights in a September letter to the editor in the Philadelphia Inquirer, though not specifically same-sex marriage.
“I am speaking up for my lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) brothers and sisters,” said Johnson in the letter, which supported an antidiscrimination law. “I was surprised to learn Pennsylvania’s laws don’t treat all people equally, and that it’s entirely legal to fire someone, deny a mortgage, or refuse a hotel room simply because of his or her sexual orientation or gender identity.”
On Nov. 22, a group of activists presented a petition with more than 19,000 signatures urging Bishop and her cabinet not to pursue charges against clergy who officiate same-sex marriages.
“Rev. Schaefer and his colleagues will ask their episcopal leaders (bishops) to walk the walk, not just talk the talk, to take leadership in the fight against discrimination and homophobia in the Church,” said a press release from Schaefer. “The pastors will call on all clergy of all Annual Conferences in the United Methodist Church to send their own petitions to their bishops.”