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30 UMC ministers to perform gay marriage in show of solidarity with stigmatized pastor

Updated: Monday, October 21 2013, 06:43 PM CDT
Reported by: Donna Kirker Morgan

LEBANON -- 30 United Methodist ministers are planning to officiate a same-sex marriage in solidarity with a local minister who is under fire for officiating his son's marriage to another man.

Rev. Frank Schaefer first changed his views on gay marriage when his son nearly committed suicide because he was terrified of coming out. 

"He prayed to God to make him normal, he didn't want to be homosexual, he thought it would be better to be gone," Schaefer said of his son's turmoil at recognizing he was gay.

Schaefer supported his son's decision to come out. It was the first step down an aisle he never imagined he would travel.

He eventually was asked to officiate his son's marriage to a man in Massachusetts in 2006. Schaeffer accepted his son's request and completed the ceremony.

It was at that point that he broke the rules set out in the the United Methodist Church's Book of Discipline. For that violation, he will be tried by the church on Nov. 18.

Last week, he learned that 30 other United Methodist Ministers have decided to oversee another same-sex wedding to show their solidarity. They won't say where or when -- except that it will happen before Schaeffer's trial.

"They were retired ministers, active ministers, men and women -- some never had met me, yet they are willing to this in solidarity with me. But of course (it's) more important that they stand with the LGBT community in our United Methodist Church," Schaefer said.

Shelly Sterner, a local minister with the United Methodist Church who is currently without a church, has been supporting Schaefer since it was announced that he would face a trial and possibly lose his church if he loses.

"We need to look at the context of all Scripture. We need to look at the person of Jesus Christ and how he ministered," she said.

"Things do change and hopefully this issue will be seen as seen as slavery, Civil Rights, woman of clergy. Hopefully we'll come to a new understanding. That's my hope," Schaefer said.30 UMC ministers to perform gay marriage in show of solidarity with stigmatized pastor

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