Penalty Phase Begins in Pennsylvania Clergy Trial


 Schaefer Greets Supporters 800x533 Penalty phase begins in Pennsylvania clergy trial

The Rev. Frank Schaefer greets supporters after receiving a guilty verdict Nov. 18. The penalty phase begins Nov. 19. He did not make any comments after the verdict. UMNS photos by Kathy L. Gilbert.

UPDATE (Tuesday, Nov. 19)

By Kathy L. Gilbert, United Methodist News 

SPRING CITY, Pa. (UMNS)—The Rev. Frank Schaefer faces another long day as a jury of ordained United Methodists decides on his penalty after finding him guilty of breaking church law by officiating at the same-sex marriage of his son in 2007.

The second day of testimony began with the Rev. Christoper Fisher, counsel for the church, telling jurors they would hear from witnesses including members of Schaefer’s church and the district superintendent in charge of Schafer’s church.

Both counsels plan to present witnesses who will also will give expert thoughts on what kind of penalty he should face.

Bishop Alfred Gwinn, presiding officer, said jurors will have to decide what happens after Schaefer’s guilty verdict. The penalty can range from termination of his conference membership and revoking his ordination credentials to suspension for a period of time.

Both Schaefer and Jon Boger, the church member who brought charges against him, were sometimes emotional as they testified Nov. 18.

Bishop Peggy Johnson, episcopal leader of the Eastern Pennsylvania Annual (regional) Conference started the trial by saying she was praying for God’s grace. “There is pain all around, there is no wonderful solution that will make everyone happy.”

The jury returned the guilty verdict at 7:10 p.m. on the opening day of the trial.

UPDATE (7:15 p.m. ET)