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Pastor says he plans to appeal after board orders his credentials surrendered

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The Eastern Pennsylvania Conference Board of Ordained Ministry, which is part of the United Methodist Church, told a Lebanon County pastor Thursday his credentials have been deemed surrendered after he officiated over his son’s same-sex marriage. The pastor plans to appeal.

Rev. Frank Schaefer had ministered had Zion United Methodist Church in Iona until a parishioner recently went to church officials with information that Schaefer had conducted the wedding in Massachusetts six years ago.

“I am upset, and I am disappointed. But, I’m not upset at people and my colleagues or the church people. I’m upset at the exclusionary policies that we have in place,” Schaefer said Thursday afternoon.

He spoke at First United Methodist Church of Germantown, which moved in 1990 to allow for full inclusion of gay and lesbian people in the life of the church, according to the church’s website.

“We have heard part of the church speak which has said there is no room in the inn,” said Rev. Lorelei Toombs, while standing beside Schaefer. “In this space, we make room.”

Schaefer said he will appeal the decision. His lawyer explained there are two appellate boards within the church. Should the case go as far as it can, it may not be until some time in 2015 when Schaefer learns if he’ll be allowed to minister again in the church.

In a statement, Bishop Peggy Johnson said, “As one church of Jesus Christ we must commit ourselves to engage in ongoing prayer and reflection, sensitive, peaceful dialogue and diligent study, so that we can better understand the needs and concerns of LGBT members and their broader community.” To read the bishop’s full statement and explanation of Thursday’s actions, click here.

Though Schaefer no longer may be speaking from the pulpit, he says he has speaking engagements lined up and plans to continue to advocate for the LGBT community.

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