U.S. pastor found guilty in church trial for performing son's gay marriage

Mon Nov 18, 2013 8:33pm EST
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By Dave Warner

SPRING CITY, Pennsylvania (Reuters) - A Pennsylvania pastor on trial by Methodist church officials for officiating at his son's 2007 same-sex marriage ceremony was found guilty on Monday of violating church law and being disobedient.

Reverend Frank Schaefer, pastor of the Zion United Methodist church in Lebanon, Pennsylvania, testified he had been conflicted about performing the ceremony, but chose to violate his denomination's teachings out of love for his child.

The verdict came after an all-day hearing at a church camp near Spring City, Pennsylvania, and was delivered by the jury of nine men and four women.

Alfred Gwinn, a retired bishop who presided at the hearing, said there were at least nine votes for a guilty verdict, as dictated by church law.

"I did not want to make this a protest about the doctrine of the church," Schaefer said at the opening of the trial. "I was ready to choose between my son and my career."

Schaefer's statement followed opening statements by a prosecutor and the defense before a presiding officer.

His trial is the first of its kind since 2012 when the church's governing body affirmed its stance that homosexuality is incompatible with Christian teachings, according to an article on an official Methodist blog.

But it is at least the eighth trial in the past 20 years of a member of the clergy accused of violating church law by performing a same-sex marriage or by acknowledging being gay, the blog report said.   Continued...