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Once-Defrocked Methodist Pastor Keeps Job

Frank Schaefer will remain a pastor in the United Methodist Church.

The once defrocked clergyman was stripped of his title for officiating the wedding of his gay son.

Caroline Kavanagh and Suzanne McAdams were excited to hear that Schaefer will be able to keep his job.

“Just overjoyed, overjoyed. Thrilled, relieved, we can breathe again,” said McAdams.

The pair are administrative assistants at the United Methodist Church in Santa Barbara and had been waiting for the decision to come out of Memphis, Tennessee.

“It definitely took up my whole weekend thinking about this and hoping and praying. We were just so excited,” said Dallis Richardson, the church pastor’s wife.

The ruling from the church’s top court upheld a June decision to reinstate Schaefer. He was found guilty last November of violating church law by performing the same-sex wedding of his son back in 2007 and was defrocked.

“He is one who is not afraid to say that God’s church is open to everyone, including all of the LGBT community,” said Pastor Mark Richardson.

Richardson moved to the Santa Barbara area the same time Schaefer was transferred to the Isla Vista church in July.

He said the decision to keep Schaefer as a pastor is the start of the church moving in the right direction.

“That’s what we hope. We’re prayerfully hoping that this will move the church forward into the 21st century,” said Kavanagh.

The Santa Barbara pastor said there is still work to be done when it comes to church law because same-sex marriages still aren’t allowed.

“We don’t have that permission yet. There are many United Methodist clergy who are willing to do that as Frank has been, because it’s the right thing to do,” Richardson said.

He acknowledged he would perform a same-sex marriage even with the current hefty consequences.

There will be a celebration for Schaefer Wednesday at Trinity Episcopal Church in downtown Santa Barbara. The church will host a talk and reception at 1500 State St. from 5 p.m. to 7:30 p.m. The public is invited.

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