UMC Pressured to Not Put Pastor Who Performed Gay Wedding on Trial

A petition signed by over 22,000 people was sent to a regional leadership of the United Methodist Church in defense of a pastor who officiated a same-sex wedding.

Faithful America gave a copy of their petition to the UMC North Texas Annual Conference on Tuesday to demand that no trial be held for retired pastor Bill McElvaney.

"Please join Bishop Martin McLee in committing not to put pastors on trial for performing gay weddings. It's time to put Jesus' commandment to love our neighbors ahead of unjust church rules," reads the petition, posted in March.

In a note about the petition, Faithful America stated it "will ultimately be up to his bishop to decide whether to put McElvaney, who is 85 years old and fighting cancer, on trial."

"The good news is that a growing number of Methodist bishops are coming to recognize that these trials are hurting the church," read the statement.

Last month Bishop Michael McKee of the North Texas Annual Conference announced that McElvaney would undergo a "supervisory process" for performing a same-sex marriage in defiance of the church body's law.

The UMC Book of Discipline forbids clergy from performing gay unions even in places where such unions are legally recognized.

"Administrative and pastoral in nature, this process seeks a just resolution in which God's work of justice, reconciliation, and healing may be realized in the body of Christ," said McKee. "It is my prayer that our members, both clergy and laity, affirm the goals of this process with their prayers and respect for the confidential nature of this process which seeks reconciliation as its ultimate goal."

This is one of multiple petitions that Faithful America has organized against the policies of the UMC regarding homosexuality.

John Lomperis, director of the United Methodist program at the Institute on Religion & Democracy, told The Christian Post that Faithful America "is an extremely politically partisan, unnuanced, strident website."

"This petition is par for Faithful America's course. They basically gathered signatures of some folk who are largely non-Methodist, and not even necessarily professing Christians of any sort, demanding that Bishop McKee disregard the faith the church has received and the trust the church has placed in him," said Lomperis.

As to the influence the petition may have, Lomperis told CP that it was possible that McKee may give in to the pressure.

"Sadly, however, in the recent past many United Methodist bishops in the United States have shown themselves to be neither strong nor courageous leaders," said Lomperis.

"With this petition, I hope and pray that Bishop McKee will show himself to not be as easily intimidated as some of his colleague bishops."

For his part, McElvaney has stated in the past that he wants only prayer and "no other response to the bishop's letter at this time."

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