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Lebanon pastor reflects on suspension - abc27 WHTM

Lebanon pastor reflects on suspension

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LEBANON, Pa. (WHTM) -

A Lebanon pastor with the Methodist church may very well be defrocked: He's already been suspended for a month because he officiated at his son's wedding to another man.

The church has ordered him to stop violating church doctrine, but Frank Schaefer says he will no longer accept the church's treatment of some people as second class citizens.

After the story made national news, Schaefer called the experience humbling. He said his punishment will not change who he is or his position. He learned a lot from the trial, and about himself.

"I have more courage than I thought, because when I was standing in front of the jury I told them, you need to know I will provide ministry to everybody regardless of sexual orientation," he told abc27's Mark Hall.

Schaefer thought he was going to lose his church and was surprised he was given a suspension.

"I think they thought, well we will let him make the decision. Put the ball in his court. And I am glad they think I am an honorable man."

During the suspension, Schaefer has to decide if he will agree to never perform another same sex marriage.

"I have to make a decision within 30 days, either surrender my credentials at the end of the time or find a way to balance these things...and that is going to be very difficult," he said. "I don't see how I can change my convictions. They are not negotiable. I don't think I will change my mind in 29 days."

Schaefer will meet with the Board of Ministry after he serves the suspension.

Regardless of the outcome, he wants to stay in ministry, and there are other scenarios that could come into play. "Maybe I will be asking for a transfer to another denomination or a transfer to another conference," he said.

Schaefer said God has chosen him to be an advocate for gay rights in his church.

Guest pastors will be conducting services at Zion of Iona United Methodist Church during Schaefer's suspension. Services will be held as usual at the church.

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