Rev. Frank Schaefer slated to lead student outreach in Isla Vista
The Pennsylvania minister who lost his credentials late last year as punishment for presiding over his gay son's marriage ceremony will soon be working again as a Methodist minister, but this time his congregation is in Santa Barbara County.
Reverend Frank Schaefer has received an assignment with the United Methodist Church student outreach program in Isla Vista.
The church's governing body recently reversed its decision to defrock Schaefer and will provide him with back pay for the past several months.
Bishop Minerva Carcaño oversees the California Pacific Conference, which includes Isla Vista, and says she welcomed Schaefer to serve with her immediately following his punishment in December. Now that he has be reinstated, the offer still stands and he can serve in an official capacity.
The church has been divided on the issue of homosexuality for decades, and this recent development deepens an already intense conversation.
"It probably has intensified in the last few years," said Carcaño. "Not only because the conversation is deeper in the United Methodist Church, but because of the significant changes that have happened in secular society."
The Bishop says Isla Vista was chosen, in part, because its a young, educated population which tends to be more progressive on the same-sex issue. She also believes Schaefer can be a healing force for a community that is still struggling with the aftermath of May's deadly attacks.