Newspaper article Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (Pittsburgh, PA)

Defrocked, Pastor Gets Job Offer from Bishop

Newspaper article Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (Pittsburgh, PA)

Defrocked, Pastor Gets Job Offer from Bishop

Article excerpt

LOS ANGELES -- A pastor who was defrocked by the United Methodist Church in Pennsylvania because of his support for same-sex marriage has been offered another position by a Methodist bishop in California, a sign of the deep split within the church over acceptance of gay men and lesbians.

The pastor, the Rev. Frank Schaefer, who led a congregation in Lebanon, Pa., was stripped of his clerical credentials earlier this month. Since then, Bishop Minerva G. Carcano has invited him to minister in the California-Pacific Annual Conference, the church region that includes Southern California and Hawaii.

Mr. Schaefer said last week that he was "very seriously considering" the offer and would discuss it with his family over the holidays.

A complaint was filed against Mr. Schaefer within the church this year because he officiated at his son's 2007 wedding to another man. His trial in November highlighted the increasingly loud objections within the nation's third-largest Christian denomination to its opposition to same-sex marriage and the ordination of gay people. Since then, a number of Methodist pastors and bishops have spoken out in support of Mr. Schaefer, denouncing the ban on same-sex weddings.

"I think it's time for some civil disobedience within our church," Bishop Carcano said. Though Bishop Carcano cannot restore Mr. Schaefer's ministerial credentials, she can offer him a position at a church with many of the same responsibilities, as a licensed local pastor. He has also appealed his defrocking.

"We could create a safe space for him for work in the California- Pacific area that was not available to him in Pennsylvania," Bishop Carcano said. "This is a more inclusive area," she said of her region. "It is a part of the church that has been practicing what the church proclaims, God's grace and mercy available to all of God's children. …

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