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Methodist Minister Who Officiated At Gay Wedding Is Defrocked

Accompanied by his wife Brigitte, right, Rev. Frank Schaefer of Lebanon, Pa., departs Thursday after meeting with officials at the Eastern Pennsylvania Conference of the United Methodist Church in Norristown, Pa.

Leaders of the United Methodist Church have defrocked a Pennsylvania minister who officiated at the wedding of his son to another man, NPR's John Burnett tells our Newscast Desk.

John reports that:

"Rev. Frank Schaefer had been suspended for 30 days by Methodist officials for marrying his son six years ago in Massachusetts, where gay marriage is legal. But the denomination's Book of Discipline is clear that same-sex marriage is 'incompatible with Christian teaching,' though gays are welcome to attend worship.

"Schaefer refused to give up his pulpit in central Pennsylvania as a show of his support for gay parishioners, and of his desire that Methodist doctrine be updated. And so Thursday morning, at a short meeting with Methodist officials at a retreat center outside of Philadelphia, the pastor was stripped of his ecclesiastical duties."

Though the wedding was in 2007, it wasn't until this year that Schaefer's congregation in Lebanon, Pa., learned of it, according to the Lebanon Daily News. Church member Jon Boger filed a complaint with Methodist officials. He said last month that Schaefer had "openly rebuked the United Methodist Church and its policies."

Boger's complaint led to Thursday's decision by the United Methodists' Board of Ordained Ministry.

For his part, Schaefer said this week that "I cannot uphold the Book of Discipline in its entirety. In fact, I don't believe anybody can." He declined a request that he voluntarily resign.

Copyright 2013 NPR. To see more, visit www.npr.org.

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