Defrocked Lebanon County pastor could get his credentials back

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The Lebanon County Pastor who was defrocked by the United Methodist Church after officiating his son’s same-sex marriage appealed the ruling today to get his credentials back. Members of the Northeast Jurisdiction of Appeals heard Frank Schaefer’s case in Linthicum, Maryland.

Defense council said that the only crime that Frank Schaefer committed was officiating his son’s same-sex marriage. Church counsel said Schaefer understood his punishment and it was his own words that put him in his situation.

“A promise that I was supposed to give, to uphold the discipline in it’s entirety, and at the end of the 30 days I said I cannot do that,” said defrocked pastor Frank Schaefer.

It was those words that lead to his defrocking. His defense testified that the only charges brought against him were for performing the same-sex marriage of his son Tim. Therefore: he cannot be punished for something he was not charged for and you cannot punish someone for future actions.

“It all comes back to the fact that you cannot punish someone for something they have not done,” said Schaefer.

Although they would not go on camera church council argued that Schaefer was charged with violating church discipline, so it was reasonable to ask him to reaffirm that he would uphold the church discipline. The Appeal Committee hammered the church council with questions including how does upholding church discipline relate to the single act Schaefer was charged for.

“I felt good about the questions that were raised, particularly of the counsel for the church, I felt they were somewhat critical,” said Schaefer.

A decision could be made as early as Friday night. The Appeal Committee has 20 days to decide.