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Defrocked Methodist pastor speaks in D.C.

Sunday - 12/22/2013, 4:08pm  ET

AP: 7e3c80e1090f47ea93400625396a05ae-0
FILE - In this Monday, Dec. 16, 2013, file photo, Rev. Frank Schaefer, a United Methodist clergyman convicted by a church jury of breaking church law for officiating at his son's same-sex wedding, speaks during a news conference at the Arch Street United Methodist Church in Philadelphia. Schaefer, who was defrocked after officiating his son's gay wedding, has been invited by a California Methodist bishop to serve in her region. (AP Photo/Matt Rourke, File)

Defrocked pastor predicts change

WTOP's Kathy Stewart reports

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WASHINGTON - A United Methodist pastor from central Pennsylvania who was defrocked after officiating his son's gay wedding was preaching in D.C. on Sunday.

The Rev. Frank Schaefer is at the center of a major controversy with the United Methodist Church. On Thursday, the church stripped him of his right to be a pastor.

After hearing the news, Senior Pastor Dean Snyder invited Schaefer to preach on Sunday at his church, Foundry United Methodist Church in Northwest, a church that welcomes all, Snyder says.

Schaefer says he was overwhelmed by how warmly he was welcomed. He was there with two of his sons and his wife.

Schaefer has led a congregation in the town of Lebanon for more than a decade. Earlier this year, a church member filed a complaint over Schaefer performing the 2007 wedding of his gay son in Massachusetts, where same-sex unions are legal.

A church jury suspended him for 30 days last month and told him to decide whether he would uphold the church's Book of Discipline or resign. Schaefer refused to surrender his credentials and the church's Board of Ordained Ministry defrocked him. He appealed the board's decision on Friday.

John Coleman, a spokesman for the Eastern Pennsylvania Conference of the denomination, said Thursday that Schaefer left officials no choice after defying the order of a religious jury to resign.

"I was standing in a weird tension between the love of my son, my family and the love for my church," Schaefer says.

Schaefer says support for him is building along with pressure for the church to change its laws.

"We're onto something big here. I predict that our discriminatory laws will change within next three to four years," he says.

Foundry United Methodist Church made him and his family members of the church.

Schaefer is also considering a an offer from Bishop Minerva G. Carcano to join the California-Pacific Annual Conference. The region includes California, Hawaii, and the Pacific Islands.

Carcano does not have the authority to restore Schaefer's ministerial credentials but he said he would have the same rights and responsibilities as an ordained minister. Schaefer said he would not be guaranteed an appointment and he would be paid less.

The Associated Press and WTOP's Kathy Stewart contributed to this report. Follow @WTOP on Twitter.

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