Defrocked pastor calls local church "beacon of hope"

By Perry Russom

February 2, 2014 Updated Feb 2, 2014 at 11:41 PM EST

Binghamton, NY (WBNG Binghamton) The Tabernacle United Methodist Church in Binghamton is celebrating their 7th year of being a Reconciling Congregation.

That means they're accepting of all Methodist's regardless of their sexual orientation or gender identity.

During their celebratory service on Sunday, they had a guest speaker who has been challenging the ministry's traditional teachings for the past few months.

This past December, Frank Schaefer was defrocked by the United Methodist Church for presiding over his son's gay wedding.

"I love the church," said Schaefer. "We get so many things right, but in this one instance, we get it wrong."

The church's Book of Discipline forbids ministers from conducting same-sex marriages.

After refusing to step down, Schaefer was brought before a jury of church officials.

"I told my jury at the trial, I can no longer go back and be a silent supporter," said Schaefer. "I'm now a voice."

His voice has echoed in churches across the county. He calls Tabernacle United Methodist a "beacon of hope."

"It's really wonderful for someone that's been through this to come by and say, 'You know what, you guys are going to make it,'" said Stephen Heiss, Tabernacle's pastor.

Heiss has also challenged doctrine.

He's ministered around eight same-sex weddings in the last ten years. He's now on track to be put on trial by the Methodist church

"We need the change," Heiss. "If we don't change, we're just going to go under as a church."

Schaefer's Sunday message was one of equality. He said gays and lesbians can't be treated as second-class Christians.

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