A Pennsylvania pastor who is facing a "trial" by his church said that he officiated his son's same sex wedding because the couple was "just as worthy and precious in God’s sight as anybody else."
In an interview published on Monday, Rev. Frank Schaefer of the Zion United Methodist Church of Iona in Lebanon told The Patriot News that he thought he was following Christian principles when he agreed to help the couple get married in 2007.
"We just love him so much it was an honor to be asked. Had I said no to him, it would have negated all the affirmations we gave him for all those year...that we believe you are just as worthy and precious in God’s sight as anybody else," he explained.
Only 26 days before the statute of limitations would have run out, one of the members of Schaefer's congregation filed a complaint with church officials.
"Sadly, our church is once again being led down the path of a costly and divisive trial by a pastor who chose to disregard the prayerful and consistent teaching of our church that Christian marriage is the holy union of one man and one woman," evangelical United Methodist Rev. Thomas Lambrecht insisted to UMC Connections earlier this month. “As a father, I share Rev. Schaefer’s desire to affirm his son, but there are ways of doing so that do not require a pastor to break the Discipline and the covenant that all United Methodist pastors agree to uphold.”
The United Methodist Church's "Book of Discipline" states that "the practice of homosexuality is incompatible with Christian teaching." And any ceremonies celebrating same sex unions are banned by the church.
Schaefer, who has been ordained since 1996, faces a suspension or could even be defrocked for presiding over the wedding.
"To me this is a human rights issue," he said during his interview with The Patriot News. “If being of a certain sexual orientation is who you are as a person, if that is genetic, who are we to say that these persons do not have the same rights as everybody else.”
“I’m supposed to minister to everybody,” the pastor added. “That I feel is my call.”
Supporters of Schaefer organized a concert on Sunday featuring the Chaz DePaolo Band to raise money for his legal defense fund. A "Stand with Pastor Frank: Support Equality" Facebook page had over 1,200 "likes" at the time of publication.
Four other Methodist pastors are also facing sanctions from the church for assisting in same sex unions.
Watch this video of the Chaz DePaolo Band from the Lebanon Daily News, recorded Sept. 29, 2013.
[Photo credit: Facebook/Zion United Methodist Church of Iona]