A New Vision, A New Voice ~ The North Texas Conference
A Pastoral Response to NTC Clergy about the Supreme Court Ruling
June 26, 2015
To: Clergy of the North Texas Conference
Today the Supreme Court of the United States has made same-sex marriage legal in our country. This decision also states that same-sex marriages that were performed legally in other states are now to be recognized in states where they were previously illegal. Many United Methodists agree with this decision, but many do not.
Since January of this year, there have been two gatherings of the clergy of the North Texas Conference. The first was Covenant Day on January 22, 2015; the second was the Executive Session of the North Texas Annual Conference.
At Covenant Day, we engaged in a time of worship and holy conversation about ministry with gay and lesbian persons. Acknowledging that faithful persons have differing opinions about marriage equality, we listened to each other with deep respect. The comments you made to me, the notes you sent to me, and the evaluations of Covenant Day expressed your appreciation for our time together. Those expressions, spoken and written to me, were from clergy who had differing opinions and beliefs about same-sex marriage.
At the Executive Session, I shared that when the Supreme Court ruled on this issue, some would be overjoyed, some would be very disappointed, and many would still be discerning about their views. At that time, I encouraged all of us to continue the thoughtful and respectful conversation that transpired on Covenant Day. Faithful brothers and sisters with whom you are in clergy covenant can and do have views different from yours. I have chosen to respect each of you and your ministry, regardless of your views on this issue or on other issues and beliefs. Your beliefs or opinions do not undermine my joy to be in the ministry of Christ with you. I ask that we remember that we hold much more in common than our differences on any one particular issue. What we hold most importantly in common is our shared faith in Christ.
Now, the Supreme Court ruling can create confusion in our church. Some of you will be asked to officiate at weddings of same-gender couples. Some of you will be asked if the UMC and its clergy will be officiating at same-gender weddings. Of course, as we know, the legality of same-gender marriages does not change the polity of The UMC. Please remember that “ceremonies that celebrate homosexual unions shall not be conducted by our ministers and shall not be conducted in our churches.” [¶341.6, Book of Discipline]
At the Executive Session, I shared that many of you would want to be pastoral with faithful Christians who are members of your churches who now desire to be married to a person of the same gender. At that time I shared the ways you may pastorally participate: attend, read scripture, offer prayer, or give the meditation. United Methodist clergy in the North Texas Conference cannot preside over the ceremony, give the vows or the exchange of rings, pronounce the couple married, or sign the marriage license. If you are asked to participate, please be clear with the couple about what you can and cannot do. Additionally, I encourage you to contact your District Superintendent about your participation and the manner in which you will participate.
May God’s blessings be upon each of you, your ministries, and your congregations.
Bishop Michael McKee
North Texas Episcopal Leader