Update: The suspension of the Rev. Bill McElvaney is now over, he told the DMN reports.
Earlier this month, the Rev. Bill McElvaney, a retired minister from Northaven United Methodist Church, officiated the marriage of Jack Evans and George Harris and risked being defrocked. The Methodist Book of Discipline identifies marriage as between a man and a woman and prohibits its clergy from performing such unions.
Not too long after the wedding, Rev. McElvaney was suspended from all clerical duties for 90 days after a complaint was filed by the Rev. Camille Gaston, the Dallas Morning News reports.
He knew the possible consequences but too the risk to be “a witness to the Methodist church,” says Eric Folkerth, the current pastor at Northaven UMC, which has been a progressive congregation since the 1960s. Rather than simply leaving the Methodist church over this issue, McElvaney hopes his actions help enact change from within.
To protect Northaven UMC and Folkerth, McElvaney performed the marriage at Midway Hills Christian Church (the reception was held at Northaven). So, only McElvaney is subject to punishment.
It’s unclear what will happen next. In some regions, Methodist ministers officiate same-sex unions regularly with no consequences. In other networks, such as the case of Frank Schaefer in Pennsylvania, clergy are removed.
This is the first time such a case has occurred in the Dallas-area district.
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