PHILADELPHIA — Frank Schaefer’s battle may not be over.

A Methodist church panel Tuesday found that the pastor from Lebanon, Pa., was wrongly defrocked for officiating at his son’s gay wedding.

While Schaefer celebrated and planned a move to California for a new job as a full-time minister, the church’s prosecutor was contemplating an appeal to the Judicial Council, its highest appeals body. That step would extend the national attention on a debate over same-sex marriage in the United Methodist Church, and could deepen divides within the denomination.

The Rev. Christopher Fisher, who prosecuted the case on behalf of the church, has until Aug. 21 – 60 days before the Judicial Council’s October meeting – to file an appeal. Fisher said this week that he would consider an appeal.

Conservative Methodists, some of whom have called for a split in the church over gay marriage, said Wednesday that they hoped for a different outcome before the Judicial Council.

The council has nine members from around the country and overseas, elected to eight-year terms. That group tends to be more conservative than members of the church’s Northeastern Jurisdiction, which filled the panel that heard Schaefer’s appeal in Baltimore last week, said the Rev. Tom Lambrecht, vice president and general manager of Good News, an evangelical conservative reform and renewal movement.

“The northeastern part of the country is much more liberal than other parts of the country, and so I think that the committee on appeals represents the viewpoint of that part of the country, whereas the Judicial Council is elected more broadly,” Lambrecht said.

Hours after Tuesday’s decision, Schaefer was appointed to a position ministering to students in Santa Barbara, Calif.

He acknowledged that his case could face review by the Judicial Council. But he felt confident he will keep his ministering credentials.