- (Photo: Reuters screen grab)
A United Methodist Church pastor defrocked by his denomination for performing his son's same-sex wedding will soon have a movie made about his life.
Francis Schaefer, the Pennsylvania-based ex-pastor who lost his credentials late last year, will be the subject of a film to be produced by Kate Logan and directed by Scott Sheppard. Titled "An Act of Love," the documentary aims to examine the controversy surrounding Schaefer and the current policy of the UMC regarding homosexuality and marriage definition.
As the son of a rural Methodist pastor, Sheppard explained to The Huffington Post in a recent interview that he "understood where [Schaefer] was coming from."
"I saw my own father go through struggles at our churches when he stood up for what he believed was right, even if it wasn't popular with the congregation," said Sheppard.
"I reached out to him about making a documentary and he agreed that it was a good idea, because we don't want the importance of his story to fade away with the upcoming news cycle."
Logan previously produced another controversial documentary known as "Kidnapped for Christ," which took a critical look at ex-gay therapy at a Caribbean Christian reform school.
According to the UMC's Book of Discipline, clergy are prohibited from officiating at same-sex weddings even in regions where gay marriage is legal.
In 2007, Schaefer performed the same-sex marriage of his son in Massachusetts, which has had legalized same-sex marriage since 2003.
Last November, Schaefer was found guilty in a church trial of violating the Book of Discipline and was suspended for 30 days, with the condition that he must cease performing gay marriages or be defrocked.
"True love draws boundaries. Scripture says that true love does not rejoice in evil," said the Rev. Dr. Christopher Fisher, who successfully argued the church's case against Schaefer.
"Cheap grace does not lead to being conformed to the image and likeness of Christ. We ought not turn the grace of God into immorality. Is it true to tell young people that their identity can be determined by something like our sexuality?"
Schaefer refused to surrender his credentials but also refused to state that he would cease performing gay weddings.
Last December, the local Board of Ordained Ministry took Schaefer's credentials from him in a meeting held in Norristown, Pa.
John Coleman, spokesman for the UMC Eastern Pennsylvania Conference, told media that Schaefer had refused to give up his credentials.
"When asked to surrender his credentials as required by the verdict, he refused to do so," said Coleman. "Therefore, because of his decision, the board was compelled by the jury's decision to deem his credentials surrendered."