A United Methodist pastor from central Pennsylvania who officiated his son’s gay wedding in Massachusetts has been defrocked according to Sky News.
The Reverend Frank Schaefer disobeyed calls from church officials to follow the denomination’s Book of Discipline, saying it discriminated against gay people.
Rev Schaefer, who was already serving a suspension, said earlier this week he would not voluntarily surrender his credentials despite church officials calling for his resignation.
Following a short meeting on Thursday, church spokesman John Coleman said officials decided to defrock the reverend.
“When I went into the hearing this morning … I was hopeful it wouldn’t come to what it has come to – my defrockment,” Rev Schaefer said at a news conference.
“I said to myself: ‘I can’t see them taking my credentials. What I did was an act of love.'”
Rev Schaefer said several officials were in tears after the meeting and told him they still supported him but that they had to make the decision to ban him.
“I am upset and I am disappointed, but I am not upset at my colleagues or the church,” he said.
“I’m upset at the exclusionary policies that we have in place, and we must change those policies.
“I will not give up the fight. I am still a minister in my heart, and I will continue to minister and to be a voice for the LGBT community.”
Rev Schaefer initially was handed a 30-day suspension for officiating the 2007 wedding of his gay son in Massachusetts, where same-sex unions are legal.
Although the Methodist church accepts gay and lesbian members, it rejects the practise of homosexuality as “incompatible with Christian teaching”.