Methodist Pastor Frank Schaefer Reinstated After Performing Same-Sex Marriage
After suspending and defrocking Methodist minister Frank Schaefer last year following his 2007 performance of his son's same-sex wedding and his vocal support of marriage equality and intent to perform future same-sex weddings, an appeals panel for the United Methodist Church has reinstated Schaefer!
The nine-person panel ordered the church to restore Frank Schaefer’s pastoral credentials, saying the jury that convicted him of breaking church law erred when fashioning his punishment.
"I’ve devoted my life to this church, to serving this church, and to be restored and to be able to call myself a reverend again and to speak with this voice means so much to me," an exultant Schaefer told The Associated Press, adding he intends to work for gay rights "with an even stronger voice from within the United Methodist Church."
While the panel did uphold Schaefer's original 30-day suspension, which he's served, Schaefer will be reinstated with back pay dating to the end of his suspension in December 2013.
We're curious about one thing though. According to the appeals panel's ruling:
The jury’s punishment was illegal under church law, the appeals panel concluded, writing in its decision that "revoking his credentials cannot be squared with the well-established principle that our clergy can only be punished for what they have been convicted of doing in the past, not for what they may or may not do in the future."
So does this mean that if Schaefer performs same-sex weddings in the future he risks being suspended and/or defrocked all over again? Only time will tell.
Schaefer will officially return to his pastoral work next month with Isla Vista Student Ministry in Santa Barbara, California.
What's your take, Instincters?