Texas United Methodist Pastor Plans to Officiate Same-Sex Weddings Despite State Law, Church Policy

A retired United Methodist minister intends to officiate same-sex marriages in Texas even though it is illegal in the state and against the church's doctrine.

Pastor Bill McElvany is taking the controversial stand despite recent cases involving United Methodist church leaders who were reprimanded for performing gay weddings.

"This is much more than an issue to be addressed. It's all about acceptance as human beings, about not having one's worth voted on by peers who believe a few scriptural passages formed by the apostle Paul are more authoritative than the numerous persuasive and powerful texts lifting up God's radical love through Jesus Christ," said McElvany, according to his predecessor, pastor Eric Folkerth's blog.

According to the United Methodist Book of Discipline, the global denomination's law book, "the sanctity of the marriage covenant that is expressed in love, mutual support, personal commitment, and shared fidelity is between a man and a woman."

The Book of Discipline also asserts that the practice of homosexuality is incompatible with Christian teachings and prohibits homosexuals from being ordained ministers or appointed to serve in any United Methodist church. It further states that "ceremonies that celebrate homosexual unions shall not be conducted by our ministers and shall not be conducted in our churches."

However, McElvany, who served at Northhaven Church in Dallas for 40 years, is willing to risk losing his credentials in favor of LGBT couples who have adhered to the religious policies for decades.

Folkerth has yet to follow McElvany in defying the church's principles however, he stated in a blog post that he recognizes same-sex marriage even though they are barred from taking place within his church, which he called "insidious, and frankly, evil."

In response, clergy members from churches near Northhaven Church have come forward to support McElvany's stance and have offered their own churches for weddings.

Folkerth also said that McElvany's announcement was a step towards lifting up "the insanity" of the church's policies and it would now allow him to "provide some measure of pastoral care" to his members.

"United Methodist pastors across this land, in almost every city, are waking up to the reality of the 'George and Jacks' in their congregations," said Folkerth. "They are realizing that same-sex marriage is an important pastoral rite that must not be denied to the people of God."

McElvany's announcement was made days after Rev. Thomas Ogletree, a theologian and former Yale Divinity School dean, was charged with violating church law for officiating his son's 2012 same-sex wedding. Ogletree's trail is set to begin in March.

Last month, Frank Schaefer, a Pennsylvania minister was defrocked for also violating doctrine by officiating his son's gay marriage.

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