The Methodist pastor from Pennsylvania whose credentials as a minister were revoked last week because he refused to stop performing same-sex marriages was greeted warmly on Sunday when he delivered two guest sermons at D.C.’s Foundry United Methodist Church, which is supportive of the LGBT community.
The Rev. Frank Schaefer of Lebanon, Pa., appeared at Foundry at the invitation of the Foundry pastor, Rev. Dean Snyder, who himself has performed same-sex marriages at Foundry in defiance of a United Methodist Church policy prohibiting its ministers from performing same-sex nuptials.
The church policy also prohibits same-sex marriages from being performed in Methodist churches by ministers of other denominations or by civil officiants.
“Like Rev. Schaefer, we believe in marriage equality as a biblical principle,” says a statement released by Foundry United Methodist Church last month when Schaefer was placed on trial by church leaders in Pennsylvania. Church officials initiated the trial after they learned he performed his son’s same-sex wedding in 2007.
The tribunal conducted by the United Methodist Conference of Eastern Pennsylvania, a regional church governing body, initially sentenced Schaefer to a 30-day suspension of his ministerial duties. When he refused a request by the tribunal that he complies with the Church’s Book of Discipline, or church law, by never again conducting a same-sex marriage, church officials defrocked him.
Rev. Dawn Hand, Foundry’s associate pastor and chief program officer, told the Blade that Schaefer, his wife, and two of his four sons who accompanied Schaefer during his appearance Sunday at Foundry, each joined Foundry and were officially welcomed as members.
“They are not planning to move to this area,” Hand said. “But they do have a home church, and that’s Foundry,” she said.
Schaefer, who lives with his family in Lebanon, Pa., has been a United Methodist clergyman for 20 years, Hand said.
According to Hand, the United Methodist Conference for the Baltimore-Washington Region, which is the church governing body with jurisdiction in this area, has not taken steps to stop Foundry United Methodist Church or Pastor Snyder from performing same-sex marriages.