On Saturday afternoon, the Rev. Bill McElvaney followed through with his Jan. 19 promise, presiding over the marriage of George Harris and Jack Evans, members of Northaven United Methodist Church, who have been together 53 years.
The emotional ceremony, although unrecognized by the state, came on the heels of U.S. District Court Judge Orlando Garcia’s ruling that Texas’ ban on gay marriage is unconstitutional.
This is not the first same-sex union to happen in our neighborhood — several progressive congregational churches have them often — but it’s a first for the local Methodist community. The polity prohibits clergy from performing such marriages. The bishop over the regional conference could bring charges against McElvaney after which he could be defrocked and stripped of his credentials.
McElvaney, who is the former pastor of Northaven UMC and now retired, was ready to risk that.
“These inhumane actions by the UMC, favoring law over love, the Book of Discipline over the Book of Discipleship — that is, the New Testament — cruelty over compassion, constitute the Methodist version of Inquisition in the 20th and 21st centuries,” McElvaney told the Northaven congregation when he announced his plans to begin officiating same-sex marriages despite the Methodist law against it.
To protect Northaven’s current pastor, Eric Folkerth, the ceremony between Harris and Evans took place at Midway Hills Christian Church, — if you drive by, you’ll see the marquee that reads “Congratulations George and Jack.” It’s one a few Preston Hollow churches that have offered their venues for same-sex services.
Folkerth says that the LGBT community makes up about 30-35 percent of the Northaven congregation, and there are 14 couples that are legally married in other states.
“This is not a future discussion,” Folkerth says. “This is what we have right now. How can we as a church not offer same-sex marriage?”
Guests packed into the atrium of Northaven UMC for the reception, and several spoke of Harris and Evans as mentors, and formed a seemingly never-ending receiving line to extend their congratulations.
Evans says the two are considering a honeymoon escape to Italy, but will stick around town for now.
“We’ve been on our honeymoon for 53 years,” he says.
See more photos from Danny Fulgencio below:
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