For weeks, we’ve been keeping you in the loop about Frank Schaefer’s ongoing conflict with Zion United Methodist Church of Iona in South Lebanon Township (Pennsyltucky territory), where he’s a pastor. Schaefer deviated from his church’s status-quo stance on marriage equality by officiating the wedding of his gay son in Massachusetts way back in 2007. On Monday, Schaefer was warned that if he didn’t reevaluate his position of solidarity with the LGBT community, he’d be stripped of his credentials. This, in anticipation of the volatile (and somewhat poetic, as you’ll see below) jury hearing among his peers that unfolded yesterday, Nov. 19.
The verdict: The Associated Press reports that Pastor Frank Schaeffer has been suspended for 30 days, and has within that timeframe to retract his stance on the issue.
Schaefer’s told reporters he’s standing his ground on the issue.
From The AP:
The church “needs to stop judging people based on their sexual orientation,” he told jurors. “We have to stop the hate speech. We have to stop treating them as second-class Christians.”
After the jury pronounced its sentence, Schaefer’s supporters began overturning chairs in the courtroom — symbolizing the biblical story of Jesus overturning the tables of the money changers — and held an impromptu communion service.
Schaefer’s trial rekindled debate within the nation’s largest mainline Protestant denomination over church policies on homosexuality and same-sex marriage. The denomination accepts gay and lesbian members, but it rejects the practice of homosexuality as “incompatible with Christian teaching.”
Schaefer donned a rainbow-colored stole on the witness stand and told jurors it symbolized his commitment to the cause.
“I will never be silent again,” he said, as some of his supporters wept in the gallery. “This is what I have to do.”
And so the drama continues.