By Ivey DeJesus
SPRING CITY — Scores of United Methodist pastors overturned chairs, sang hymns and held an impromptu communion in a makeshift courtroom Tuesday night moments after a jury of peers had handed down penalties to the Rev. Frank Schaefer.
Schaefer was suspended from all ministerial duties effective immediately for 30 days, during which time, if he violates church law, he must immediately surrender his church credentials.
During the suspension Schaefer is allowed to minister to his gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender parishioners, and was instructed to discern whether he could continue to carry out his duties while upholding in their entirety the laws of his church.
“It’s up to me,” Schaefer said some time later, surrounded by a throng of media at Camp Innabah, a United Methodist retreat, where the trial occurred.
“I can no longer be silent. Now I have to be an outspoken advocate. I will not refuse ministry to anyone.”
Schaefer appeared calm and collect, although his eyes were visibly bloodshot from crying.
The scene in the makeshift courtroom erupted in protest just minutes after the jury delivered its penalty sentencing.