McElvaney suspended for performing same-sex wedding

The Rev. William McElvaney greets supporters at Northaven United Methodist Church after announcing his willingness to perform a same-sex wedding. UMNS photos by Sam Hodges.

The Rev. William McElvaney greets supporters at Northaven United Methodist Church after announcing his willingness to perform a same-sex wedding. UMNS photos by Sam Hodges.

Bishop Michael McKee has suspended the Rev. Bill McElvaney for performing a high-profile same-sex wedding in Dallas on March 1, 2014. News of the suspension was revealed in a message from McElvaney on the website of Northaven United Methodist Church, a congregation that was once led by the 85-year-old retired McElvaney.

In the posted message, McElvaney said he received a letter March 7 from Bishop Michael McKee informing him that the Rev. Camille Gaston, the district superintendent in the area, had filed a complaint against him. McElvaney reports that his clergy responsibilities had been suspended for 90 days.

“Good News is pleased at the prompt and firm action of Bishop McKee in holding the Rev. McElvaney accountable to the church’s long-standing and biblically-based policy,” said the Rev. Thomas Lambrecht, vice president of Good News. “The integrity of our connectional covenant is at stake. Given Rev. McElvaney’s health concerns, we hope for a compassionate, yet meaningful, consequence that upholds the teaching of the church as expressed by our General Conference.”

The next step in the process will be a meeting involving McKee, McElvaney, Gaston and a person of McElvaney’s choice.

“The UM [Book of] Discipline calls for a supervisory response from the bishop,” McElvaney wrote. “This response is intended to be pastoral and administrative, directed toward a just resolution between the parties.”

“There are a number of possibilities that may arise from these developments,” McElvaney wrote on the Northaven website. “This first step involves no legal counsel or judicial procedure. I would like to ask Northaven members to hold the bishop, the complainant and me in your prayerful concerns as this process unfolds.”

– Good News Media Service



  1. In the late 90’s, while on staff at a Jesuit university, I saw an institution endure a high-pressure, relentless push by those associated with a gay and lesbian organization. Though the institution made gestures to reach out to the gay and lesbian organization, nothing short of a complete disavowal of their church disciplines and teachings regarding homosexuality would satisfy the organization. And while the institution has stood its’ ground to this day, it has been involved in an almost 20+ year war of attrition.
    The UM church is now joined into this same sort of battle with its’ own left-leaning clergy and membership. With this confrontation, as with the one involved with my previous Jesuit employer, I believe the same remedy is available. To all bishops, clergy and UM members who find God’s word, Wesleyan tradition and UM church discipline placing too burdensome of restrictions upon your more modern and “enlightened” spiritual journey, please feel free to seek a new church. If church acceptance of same-sex relationships has become paramount in your ability to serve Christ in the UM church, it is incumbent upon you to leave. Apparently, when God’s word speaks of love, respect and acceptance, you must believe that sin is also loved, respected and accepted. I, together with the vast majority of UM members, believe that God’s love is offered to sinners looking for redemption, rather than those leveraging love as a basis of blackmailing God into accepting sin.

    • Jim,
      Thank you. It is all about redemption for sinners, the Good News, the Gospel of Jesus Christ. The deeper Satan drives that wedge between that (good) and this modern, un-Biblical, secular transformation of our church (evil), the further we move from God’s calling and towards His final judgement.

  2. I would suppose that Rev McElvaney acted out of what he thought was the love of Christ; the problem is, he goes against not only church doctrine but clear biblical doctrine as well. Christ established His church to help us deal with these challenges as they occur, and our obedience to His word as well as to the traditions of the church gives witness to the resurrected Christ among us. I thank God for the courageous response of Bishop McKee and Rev Gaston, who will no doubt receive a storm of criticism from the gay community and sympathizers over their decisions; walking the walk is never easy. Come Lord Jesus.

  3. I am very grateful to Bishop McKee for responding quickly to this situation. I agree with Jim and Bill that the assertion that standing by church discipline and biblical doctrine is NOT, as some in the gay community would suggest, a lack of love for gays and lesbians. I liken it to how I feel about smoking. I believe it is not healthy and I would ask my friends and relatives (whom I love) not to smoke in my house or car. This doesn’t mean I reject them or fail to love them.

  4. Praying for unity in the UMC says

    I celebrate Rev. William McElvaney’s decision to follow his convictions to uphold God’s Word instead of the Book of Discipline. As younger United Methodist, we need the sages of the church to lead God’s church into the future. The United Methodist Church is God’s Church and we are about making disciples of Jesus Christ for the transformation of the world. Marriage equality is coming quickly to the United States. What a wonderful statement has been made by Rev. William McElvaney to the future of the church. I believe that God can work in us, despite us, no matter where we stand on this issue. The beauty of UM has never been about conformity but about our unity in Christ. I pray no schism will evolve because of the serious disagreement of this issue in the church. We need each other. God loves us all and we all are welcome to serve in God’s Kingdom. Bless you all for your convictions, but at the end of the day, we must ask ourselves, have we joined God’s work of making disciples? I think both camps can do this under the umbrella of the United Methodist Church.

    • Praying For Unity,
      Perhaps you might want to read the following UMC statement on our beliefs and the making disciples of Jesus Christ. A Conversion experience is the cornerstone of Justifying Grace and is a prerequisite for discipleship.

      It could be coming fast, but Jesus will need to be sold on the idea of “marriage equality” first. He made it perfectly clear in his unequivocal definition of marriage by affirming God’s created order for marriage as a preface to his condemnation of divorce as found at Matthew 19:4-6. It would probably be a better idea to get in step with Jesus here instead of getting on this “church into the future” bandwagon.

      • When people turn from what is very clear in God’s Word to something different, there is no unity, I suggest you read up on John Wesley. I think you will be shocked at the level of conformity that he required to be a Methodist. If you need help, just ask. Conforming to God’s Way is what we are all about. Find the simplest book on Wesley that you can, and read. Your life may just take a huge change!

  5. There was no suspension. The only action will be pastoral and administrative in nature as they seek a just resolution. Read Bishop McKee’s statement and you will see that Rev McElvaney will face no serious consequences.

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