By Allison Steele
A jury of Methodist pastors ruled Monday that a Lebanon County, Pa., minister violated church doctrine when he presided over his son’s marriage to a man – a decision that the Rev. Frank Schaefer said was made out of love, not as an act of rebellion.
The verdict was not unexpected; Schaefer, pastor of Zion United Methodist Church of Iona, admitted that he knew he was going against church doctrine by ministering to his son, Tim, at his wedding.
A red-eyed Tim Schaefer left the building after the verdict was read, and was greeted by applause from supporters in the chilly night air.
“I’m obviously very saddened, so what we’re hoping for tomorrow is a light sentence,” he said.
The trial will resume Tuesday morning, with jurors hearing more testimony and ultimately deciding whether Schaefer will face punishment. That could include a reprimand, a suspension, or a stripping of his ministry. Frank Schaefer embraced supporters and family after the verdict, with some saying, “We love you.” He declined to comment, saying he was not allowed to speak until the proceedings were over.
Bishop Alfred Gwinn is the presiding officer in the trial.