Methodists petitioning Pa. bishop on gay marriage

NORRISTOWN, Pa. (AP) — Some United Methodists are calling on the church's eastern Pennsylvania bishop to stop holding religious trials for pastors who perform gay weddings.

A group plans to deliver a petition with about 20,000 signatures to Bishop Peggy Johnson at the church's regional office in Norristown.

The petition was organized online by the group Faithful America. It asks Johnson to disregard the denomination's "immoral anti-gay rules."

The Methodist church accepts gay and lesbian members, but it rejects the practice of homosexuality as "incompatible with Christian teaching."

Thursday's scheduled event comes two days after a religious jury suspended a Methodist minister from central Pennsylvania for officiating the marriage of his gay son.

The Rev. Frank Schaefer, who was unrepentant, expects to be defrocked at the end of his 30-day punishment.