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Methodist minister Frank Schaefer defrocked by church officials

By Liz Kilmer, Reporter, LKilmer@wfmz.com
Published On: Dec 19 2013 09:48:56 AM CST
Updated On: Dec 19 2013 05:14:55 PM CST

Church officials have defrocked a United Methodist pastor from Lebanon County who officiated his son's gay wedding in Massachusetts four years ago.

NORRISTOWN, Pa. -

The Lebanon County minister suspended for officiating his son's same-sex marriage has been defrocked by the United Methodist Church, but Frank Schaefer said it's a decision he plans to appeal.

"I am here to tell you that I will not give up the fight. I am still a minister in my heart," said Schaefer, during a news conference Thursday at the First United Methodist Church of Germantown in Philadelphia.

Hours earlier, Schaefer learned his fate during a meeting in Norristown with UMC conference officials. Those officials, according to Schaefer, asked him whether he could uphold church law going forward.

"I answered... 'Unfortunately, no, I cannot,'" said Schaefer, citing what he believes are "discriminatory" policies.

Schaefer told media he did not willingly surrender his credentials. Rather, he had hoped the church would have a change of heart.

Now, he plans to appeal the decision, continue ministering and serve as a voice for the LGBT community. He said many organizations have requested that he speak and share his story.

"I'm going to continue to instigate petitions to speak about the issue," said Schaefer, "I'm going to share my story everywhere I go and everywhere I've been invited."

Schaefer said he has been approached by many other denominations, but feels committed to the UMC. He plans to wait out an appeal, which officials said could take up to two years.