No decision on Methodist pastor's reinstatement

Posted: June 23, 2014

The Methodist church panel weighing whether to reinstate Frank Schaefer, the Pennsylvania pastor who lost his credentials after officiating his gay son's wedding, did not announce a decision Saturday, according to Schaefer's counsel.

The panel, composed of nine lay members and clergy from the church's northeast jurisdiction, heard Schaefer's appeal Friday in Baltimore and had been expected to announce its decision Saturday.

No reason was given for the delay. It is not known when the decision will come, but the panel has 28 days to issue a ruling.

"I want to express our gratitude for the seriousness with which the committee members are obviously taking their responsibility," the Rev. Scott Campbell, Schaefer's legal counsel, said in a statement. "We remain hopeful that the decision will help move the church towards justice."

Schaefer's case gained national attention - and served to polarize both sides of the gay-rights debate in the church - when the Lebanon, Pa., pastor last year was charged with breaking doctrinal law by officiating at his son Tim's same-sex wedding in 2007 in Massachusetts. He was found guilty by a jury of his peers and defrocked when he rejected the options given to him: Promise to uphold the Methodist doctrines, or step aside.

The appeals panel's decision could be pivotal for the denomination, where conservative groups have floated talk of a schism, saying the church's laws are being flouted by disobedient ministers and leaders who fail to hold them accountable. Their ruling could be appealed to a higher church committee.


tnadolny@phillynews.com610-313-8205 @TriciaNadolny

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