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Church Suspends 85 Year Old Minister Over Same-Sex Wedding

Marriage Equality
Marriage Equality
Kevork Djansezian / Getty Images

News came out of Texas on Friday that retired United Methodist minister Bill McElvaney has been suspended by the Church for officiating over the wedding of Jack Evans and George Harris, two gay men in their 80’s. The 85 year old Reverend had announced in January his plans to preside over the wedding and was pleased to be able to celebrate with the couple who have been together for 53 years.

”It’s all about acceptance as human beings,” McElvaney said in his announcement regarding his decision to officiate the wedding. “About not having one’s worth voted on by peers who believe a few scriptural passages.”

The wedding of Evans and Harris took place on March 1st at Midway Hills Christian Church.

”The marriage of George and Jack is a sign of God’s love and their love for each other and our love for one another,” said McElvaney after the ceremony,” It’s sufficient to say George and Jack are offering a gift, an invitation and a challenge to the United Methodist Church to become a fully inclusive church. And we thank them for that.”

An official complaint was filed against McElvaney on March 7th by Reverend Camille Gaston of Richardson. The complaint was lodged based on the UMC’s Book of Discipline which declares that homosexuality is considered contrary to Christian teachings and that Church law states its clergy are not to officiate at same-sex unions.

McElvaney, who is also battling cancer, has been suspended for up to 90 days.

Responding to his suspension McElvaney has said “The Methodist church is on the wrong side of the Gospel on this and history.”

Texas does not currently have marriage equality but the symbolism of the ceremony is significant as the country is quickly shifting towards legalized same-sex marriage.

Rev. McElvaney is a retired United Methodist Elder and emeritus pastor of Northaven Church. He has also served as a professor of preaching at the Perkins School of Theology and as President of St. Paul School of Theology. In 2013, he was award the “Distinguished Alumni Award” from Perkins School of Theology.

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