Pa. pastor stands church trial over gay marriage

Associated Press
FILE - This Sept. 2013 photo provided by The Rev. Frank Schaefer shows Schaefer, right, and his son Tim. The Rev. Frank Schaefer, 51, charged under United Methodist law with officiating Tim's same-sex marriage, is scheduled to go on trial Monday, Nov. 18, 2013. The pastor could be defrocked if a jury comprised of fellow Methodist clergy convicts him of breaking his pastoral vows by officiating the 2007 ceremony in Massachusetts. Schaefer's supporters argue that church teaching on homosexuality is outmoded. (AP Photo/ Schaefer Family, File)
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FILE - This Sept. 2013 photo provided by The Rev. Frank Schaefer shows Schaefer, right, and his son Tim. The Rev. Frank Schaefer, 51, charged under United Methodist law with officiating Tim's same-sex marriage, is scheduled to go on trial Monday, Nov. 18, 2013. The pastor could be defrocked if a jury comprised of fellow Methodist clergy convicts him of breaking his pastoral vows by officiating the 2007 ceremony in Massachusetts. Schaefer's supporters argue that church teaching on homosexuality is outmoded. (AP Photo/ Schaefer Family, File)

SPRING CITY, Pa. (AP) — A United Methodist minister who officiated at his son's same-sex wedding has pleaded not guilty to charges that he broke his pastoral vows.

The Rev. Frank Schaefer of Lebanon entered his plea Monday at the beginning of a church trial in southeastern Pennsylvania.

Schaefer could face punishment ranging from a reprimand to suspension to losing his minister's credentials if a jury composed of fellow Methodist clergy convicts him of breaking church law that bans clergy from performing same-sex weddings.

The church's attorney, the Rev. Christopher Fisher, told the 13-member jury in his opening statement that Schaefer clearly violated the Methodist Book of Discipline by presiding over the 2007 ceremony in Massachusetts.

Schaefer's attorney, the Rev. Robert Coombe, told the jury that Schaefer simply extended God's love to his son.

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