Special Coverage: The Trial of Rev. Frank Schaefer


The Rev. Frank Schaefer, an elder in the Eastern Pennsylvania Annual Conference, was tried on November 18-19, 2013 for presiding at the same-sex wedding ceremony of his gay son. He was found guilty disobeying the proscriptions in the UM Book of Discipline forbidding UM clergy from presiding at same-sex unions, and for disobedience to the order and discipline of the church. He was sentenced on November 19 to a 30 suspension from ministry, and given a 30 day period to determine if he would be willing to comply with the UM Book of Discipline “in entirety.”

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Trial Information

Trial Location: Innabah Program Center, 712 Pughtown Road, Spring City, PA – Kedron Gymnasium Dates: November 18-20 What is a Church Trial? According to ¶2707 of the 2012 Book of Discipline of The United Methodist Church, “church trials are to be regarded as an expedient of last resort. Only after every reasonable effort has been made to correct any wrong and adjust any existing difficulty should steps be taken to institute a trial… All trials shall be conducted according to The Book of Discipline in a consistent Christian manner by a properly constitute court after due investigation.” Who will preside over the trial? Retired Bishop Alfred W. Gwinn, Jr. will preside over the trial. Will the trial be open to the public? Yes, court sessions of the trial will be open, but the deliberations of the trial court will be closed. Are there any guidelines for the trial? Yes, because the proceedings are intended to be open, the public is welcome according to certain conditions. Anyone violating these conditions will be asked to desist and – if necessary – leave the property.

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