Schaefer found guilty on both counts

SPRING CITY, Pa. — The Rev. Frank Schaefer, the United Methodist pastor on trial for presiding at the wedding of his son, was found guilty this evening by a jury of his peers of disobeying the provisions in the United Methodist Book of Discipline forbidding clergy from participating in same-sex weddings and unions. Schaefer was also found guilty on a second charge of disobedience to the order and discipline of The United Methodist Church.

In his testimony earlier in the day, Schaefer did not deny participating in the service, saying that he chosen to offer love to his son at the risk to his career. Schaefer testified that he had informed church leaders prior to presiding at the service in 2007. Charges were only filed this year, only one month before the statute of limitations had expired, by a member of the Zion United Methodist Church in Iona, Pa. where Schaefer serves as the pastor.

Tim Schaefer, the son of the Pennsylvania pastor, said after the verdict was read that he hoped that his father would receive a light penalty.

The jury will reconvene at 9 a.m. ET Tuesday, Nov. 19 for the penalty phase of the trial.

It is unknown who will be called on to testify during the penalty phase. Schaefer had said before the trial that he would be callling on experts in church law to testify on his behalf, and observers were surprised when Schaefer alone testified for the defense during the guilt phase of the trial. Presiding Bishop Alfred Gwinn suggested this evening that additional persons will testify tomorrow.

The United Methodist Reporter will have the full story of the days events later tonight.

Erik Alsgaard, UMR Correspondent

Erik Alsgaard

UMR Correspondent The Rev. Erik Alsgaard is a member of the Detroit Conference, on loan to the Baltimore-Washington Conference, serving in the Ministry of Communications there as Editor of the UMConnection newspaper.

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32 Comments on "Schaefer found guilty on both counts"

The United Methodist Reporter wants to encourage lively conversation about The United Methodist Church and our articles in the belief that Christian conversation (what Wesley would call conferencing) is a means of grace. While we support passionate debate, we cannot allow language that demeans or demonizes others, and we reserve the right to delete any comment we believe to be harmful or inappropriate. We encourage all to remember that we are all broken and in need of Christ's grace, and that we all see through the glass darkly until that time we when reach full perfection in love. May your speech here be tempered with love, and reflection of the fruits of love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control. After all, "There is no law against things like this." (Galatians 5:22-23)
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Don Walter

Simply said, if you don't like a law or rule, change it! But don't deny it or refuse to abide by it! The term is anarchy! Makes organization meaningless.


But it's not in the 10 commandments. All of those when broken leave victims behind. Even Jesus felt free to break interpretations of the 10 commandments when leaders used them to avoid the responsibility to do good, such as healing on the Sabbath or honoring Father and Mother. We can't say homosexuals sin against themselves without considering our motives and if our easy judgment, and it is EZ to judge, is a means of grace or leaves instead another victim

Kate Spindler

I have taken myself and my family out of the UMC for this very reason. There is no biblical support for not allowing homosexual couples to marry, and those that say there are frightened people who don't understand humanity. I won't have my children participate in discrimination and call it "Christian." And I hope you call me a heretic; I'd wear that label proudly.

Amy Harris

Matthew 19:4-6 refers to marriage between man and woman. It does NOT exclude same sex marriage. It does not say marriage is ONLY between man and woman.

Jay Elliott

Merciful God,

We confess that we have not loved you with our whole heart.

We have failed to be an obedient church.

We have not done your will,

We have broken your law,

We have rebelled against your love.

We have not loved our neighbors,

and we have refused to hear the cry of the needy.

Forgive us, we pray.


-With thanks to a friend for reminding me of these important words.

A Christian Man
Wow… I am not a Methodist, but your heretical comments here are nothing short of incredible! We could delve into your so-called scientific support of homosexuality not being a deviant behavior, we could cite all the Biblical references which counter your charge. But, if we truly understand the sexual act for what it is, then common sense and natural law give us all the evidence we need to determine that your stated beliefs here are planted in rocky soil. And for you to make such a blasphemous remark that Jesus, would side with the pastor and side with those who… Read more »
Cody Hamann

With all due respect, you are a poison atop the face of Christianity. You, and those like you, do not know Christ. Your arrogance, hate, and judgements I tongue are no less sinful as the sin you claim to be homosexuality. I pray one day, you may understand the live of Christ. Until then, I hope you experience the neglect and soclusion you are spewing.


I totally agree with D Caf with his questioning the Open minds, Open Doors, Open Hearts statement. What ever happened to love thy neighbor? We are all God's children and should be treated fairly. This is a total blasphemy overall. Prayers for the pastor and his son; they are both victims of a person (or congregation) who think they are right in their interpretation of the word of God. Wake up people, this is doing no one harm.

Amy Harris

"this is doing no one harm" Pastor Shcaefer and his family are being harmed. His church is being put in a position of having to take sides. Yes folks are being harmed. It is not for me to say if the harm being done is justified or not but it is definitely being done.

Brother Frank, I am so very sorry that that court ruled the way that they did. You are being a model of Christ's unconditional love and you are an inspiration to the growing number of U.M. clergy who believe the way that you do. I pray that you will remain in the United Methodist Church — along with many kindred spirits such as myself — in order to help our beloved church repent from this bigoted vestige of an earlier era and transform the UMC into being a church that truly loves, includes, affirms, and celebrates all of God's children.… Read more »

I love it when we bring the Bible stories in. Somehow they do not actually fit our theology. Of course, I do not believe Jesus was a theologian!!

John Battern
The ruling is all but meaningless. He confessed to violating our rules, it was doubtful that he would not be found guilty if the jurists had any integrity at all. What really matters is what happens today. Today is when the level of accountability is determined. On another note, I really get tired of hearing how our BOD and those of us who support it are hateful or at least not loving. If that's true why would anyone who says they believe in love for all want to be associated with the UMC. It's like a Jew belonging to the… Read more »
John Sterman

This is why the UMC is going to be an outdated dinosaur by the middle of this century. Way to choose the wrong side of history and totally put your own book above the gospel.

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