A Pennsylvania methodist pastor who was defrocked after officiating the wedding of his gay son has been reinstated — Or, in his words, "refrocked" — and will be allowed to return to the pulpit.
Rev. Frank Schaefer did a little happy dance after a United Methodist Church appeals panel overturned a previous ruling that stripped him of his clerical privileges for not promising to refrain from administering gay weddings in the future. (Via KYW-TV)
"The message behind this ruling is that there will be change. The church is changing."
"I will not refuse ministry to anybody. So, if the question is asked, 'Paster Frank, will you perform gay weddings again?' The answer is, 'Absolutely.'" (Via WFMZ)
The United Methodist Church is the second largest Protestant denomination with about 11 million members spanning the globe. So, it was no surprise Schaefer's defrocking last year thrust the pastor into the spotlight as a figurehead for gay rights within the church.
The church's Book of Discipline, like most Christian doctrines, defines marriage as between a man and a woman. It's also pretty strict against gay practices in just about every facet, though not all ministers feel the same way.
In fact, a Reconciling Ministries Network petition has gathered more than 100 signatures from active clergy who would be willing to go against church doctrine and administer same-sex weddings.
Not to mention Gallup polls show the majority of the American public approves of same-sex marriage in recent years.
And 19 U.S. states and Washington D.C. have legalized it.
Still, it doesn't look like the church will stop charging those who break the rules.
A Southern Methodist University professor of church history told The New York Times, "It still stands that performing a union of gay persons is a chargeable offense, and others could and probably will be removed for doing that." Though, he also noted it would speed up talks over a future"split within the denomination."
The United Methodist Church appeals panel also said it would compensate Pastor Schaefer for all lost salary and benefits dating back to last December.