(November 18, 2013) The Rev. Frank Schaefer, a Pennsylvania pastor charged under United Methodist law after he officiated at his son's same-sex marriage, went on trial Monday.
He pleaded not guilty Monday morning.
His attorney, the Rev. Robert Coombe, told the jury that Schaefer simply extended God's love to his son.
Schaefer could be defrocked if a jury comprised of fellow Methodist clergy members convicts him of breaking his pastoral vows by officiating at the ceremony in 2007 in Massachusetts.
The nation's largest mainline Protestant denomination accepts gay and lesbian members, but rejects the practice of homosexuality as "incompatible with Christian teaching."
The issue has split the church.
Hundreds of Methodist ministers have publicly rejected church doctrine on homosexuality, and some of them face discipline for presiding over same-sex unions.
Schaefer's trial is Monday at a Methodist retreat in Spring City, Pa.