Frank Schaefer, the Isla Vista Methodist pastor who was defrocked last year for officiating a wedding for his gay son, was reaffirmed by the highest court of the church on Monday. “It’s a strong signal by the Methodist Church we will care for you,” said Schaefer, explaining that thousands of people in the LGBT community have eagerly waited for this day. “That is the real victory in it all.”
Schaefer learned of the decision Monday afternoon when he turned on his cell phone after landing in Denver from Wisconsin. “My phone lit up with all kinds of congratulatory messages,” Schaefer said. He had been anxiously awaiting the news since he went before the judicial council last Wednesday, which made the final ruling on his credentials and upheld an earlier decision to reinstate them after the defrocking. Schaefer is from a small town in Pennsylvania and has been in Isla Vista since July.
This decision is final, but Schafer said the church has a long way to go in fully accepting the LGBT community. “It’s not done,” he said. “It’s far from being done.” Now, Schaefer is on his way back to Isla Vista, where he hopes to turn the little church located at 892 Camino del Sur into a blossoming parish. He also expressed gratitude for his family, supporters, and the LGBT community. “Without them, I couldn’t have done it,” he said.