Pennsylvania Pastor Frank Schaefer, the
United Methodist Church pastor suspended over officiating a gay
wedding, says he won't leave the church voluntarily.
“I cannot in good conscious surrender
my credentials voluntarily. I cannot,” Schaefer
said during a press conference held Monday in Philadelphia.
“Because I feel called to be a minister. … I cannot voluntarily
surrender my credentials because I am a voice now for many of the
tens of thousands of LGBT members in the church.”
Schaefer, pastor at Zion United
Methodist Church of Iona in Lebanon, presided over the 2007 wedding
of his son Tim Schaefer in Massachusetts, which legalized gay
marriage in 2004.
Last month, a jury of 13 fellow pastors
convicted Schaefer of breaking church law and suspended him for 30
An unrepentant Schaefer, who has three
gay children, said that he plans to defy a church order calling on
him to reconcile his teachings with church doctrine or surrender his
credentials. He said that he could not uphold the church's Book of
Discipline, calling it discriminatory.
“I cannot uphold those discriminatory
laws and the language in the United Methodist Church's Book of
Discipline that is hurtful and harmful to our homosexual brothers and
sisters,” he said.
Schaefer is scheduled to meet with
church officials on Thursday. He said that he is considering moving
to an LGBT-affirming church but would wait until after Thursday's
meeting before making a decision.
“I love being a United Methodist
minister,” he said. “And I would prefer to remain a United
Methodist minister so I can do some awesome work within the United
Methodist church towards dismantling the discrimination.”