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Pastor found guilty for presiding over gay son's wedding - abc27 WHTM

Pastor found guilty for presiding over gay son's wedding

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SPRING CITY, Pa. (WHTM) -

United Methodist pastor Frank Schaefer of Lebanon was found guilty on Monday after he was tried in a parochial trial for presiding over his son's marriage to another man six years ago.

Schaefer was convicted of performing a wedding that violates church practice and disobedience with the order of the church.

While his church welcomes gay and lesbian members, it rejects the practice of homosexuality. As such, Reverend Schaefer was tried in a parochial trial on Monday in Spring City, Chester County.

The 13-member jury handed down the guilty verdict at around 7:15 p.m.

Support for Schaefer was evident all day in front of the church camp where his parochial trial was held.

He testified he knew he was breaking church doctrine at the time, but he said he felt an obligation to perform the ceremony after his son—who had struggled with his sexuality for years—made the request.

Many members of Schaefer's congregation are standing behind him. "I hope that there's mercy shown on him and that he's not defrocked," said Dorothy Zimmerman. "I think there will be a consequence, but I hope that they give him leniency."

But one former parishioner argued that what Schaefer did was wrong.

Jon Boger was born and raised in Lebanon, but he moved away after joining the military. He broke down in tears on the stand as he argued Schaefer had an obligation to uphold church law, despite the duty he felt to his son.

But the defense says this is all a vendetta because Schaefer and Boger's mother—a longtime choir director at the church—didn't get along.

Those who traveled to Chester County to rally for change say regardless of the reason for this trial, it's shed light on rules that need updated.

"While it's a sign of the church's continued obstinance on this matter, crisis frequently provokes change," said Matthew Berryman of Reconciling Ministries Network.

A separate penalty phase will begin at 9 a.m. on Tuesday.

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