Progressive US Christian group Faithful America will present a petition on Thursday of over 24,000 signatures backing United Methodist clergy who want to be able to marry same-sex couples without fear of being disciplined by the church hierarchy or losing their jobs.
The petition campaign was sparked after Lebanon, Pennsylvania United Methodist Reverend Frank Schaefer was suspended for 30 days for officiating his gay son’s 2007 wedding in Massachusetts.
Shaefer’s being hauled before a church tribunal over his role in his son’s wedding also inspired over 30 United Methodist clergy to join together in an act of group civil disobedience by co-officiating the wedding of two men in Philadelphia on 9 November.
Faithful America plan to present the petition, which went well over its 15,000 signature target, along with supportive United Methodist pastors to local Bishop Peggy Johnson.
The petition reads, ‘Bishop Peggy Johnson, please join with the growing number of United Methodists who are obeying Jesus' command to love our neighbors and disregarding the church's immoral anti-gay rules.’
‘Don't allow any more trials for pastors who officiate at gay weddings.’
Shaefer has been threatened with being defrocked if he continues to marry same-sex couples.