Bishop Huie and Cabinet Host Pastoral Conclaves on Topic of Same Gender Marriage

Date Posted: 9/10/2015

Texas Conference leaders met with respected pastors from the Indiana Annual Conference in August to discuss ministry opportunities in a changing cultural environment, following the Supreme Court ruling on same sex marriages.
On August 27 in Longview, Tx and August 28 in Conroe, Tx  Bishop Janice Huie welcomed over 400 TAC clergy to a conclave to learn and discuss ministry opportunities related to the recent Supreme Court ruling on same-gender marriages. Two pastors from the Indiana Annual Conference shared their experience as pastors in a state that declared same-gender marriage legal in 2014.  TAC clergy now face a similar cultural and pastoral environment following the June 26, 2015, Supreme Court decision in the case of Obergefell v. Hodges, legalizing same-gender marriages.

Dr. Greg McGarvey is recently retired from the Indiana Annual Conference after 40 years in ministry. He is a long-time member of the Confessing Movement Board of Directors and has served as its President. A graduate of Asbury Seminary, he has pastored small, medium and large membership churches as well as serving as a District Superintendent. He is currently a consultant with the Horizon Stewardship Company.

Dr. Rob Fuquay serves as the Senior Pastor of St. Luke’s United Methodist Church, a large progressive congregation in Indianapolis. A graduate of Duke Divinity School, he served previously as Senior Pastor of Williamson’s Chapel UMC in North Carolina. He says, “I desire a church that welcomes everyone and allows God to work with them where they are.” He is a noted preacher, and the author of The God We Can Know published by Upper Room.

The cabinet and Bishop Huie invited these two United Methodist ministers particularly because they have a differing theological view of homosexuality and yet they are friends who respect each other’s views. They were asked to share how an earlier statewide ruling impacted their own ministry, issues they anticipate they will face in the future, and the differences it is making as they seek to be in ministry “to and with” all person.

“I believe the Bishop exercised leadership by bringing people together for a pastoral conclave in August for the purpose of addressing a difficult issue,” shares Rev. David Cartwright, Russell Memorial UMC-Wills Point. “Ignoring an issue may be the easier choice, but not one that good leaders usually make. There were no false promises that this or any one event would resolve the conflict. Rather it was an invitation to come together with open hearts and minds, trusting that such a gathering would be an opportunity for the Holy Spirit to work among us.” Adds David, “I also believe that good leadership was exercised by inviting other leaders who may be among the best to speak on the subject from their own experience.”

Bishop Huie encouraged the clergy present to ask questions that would be helpful in framing their own responses as we move into this new cultural environment. District Superintendent Morris Mathis shared a devotional that challenged the gathering to see things through another’s perspective, to really listen to an alternative idea with respect and understanding. Read his devotional.  

TAC Chancellor Mary Daffin presented the legal perspective, reminding those present that the Supreme Court ruling does not change The Book of Discipline and that Texas passed a law protecting clergy from any repercussion of abiding by church law and not performing same-gender marriages. See her entire presentation:

Both Rob and Greg were committed to adhering to church law but in other areas, they had differing responses to questions from the audience.  They responded from their own perspectives in regards to questions of membership in their congregations for homosexuals, baptism of babies of same-gender couples, and church leadership including staff.

“I am grateful for the experience I received at the conclave regarding same sex marriage. Over the many years of conversation and debate around this issue, this was the first time I have experienced the level of honesty and mutual respect that Bishop Huie and the presenters brought to the table. Dr. Fuquay and Dr. McGarvey were indeed the right choice to lead us. Their insights were thought provoking and their genuineness was uplifting. While I was not eagerly anticipating another conversation on this issue, my spirit received an unexpected blessing that day, if for no other reason because of the Christ-like manner in which the subject was approached.”
Rev. Deborah Vaughn, Abiding Faith UMC, says, “As I listened to Dr. McGarvey and Dr. Fuquay, their mutual respect in light of their differences was evident and refreshing.”
Dr. Todd Jordan, senior pastor of Strawbridge UMC- Kingwood, says, “For me, the biggest takeaway was the authentic relationship between the two presenters. Content aside, their friendship models for us as elders in the TAC, how we can engage in real dialogue about issues we may disagree on without jeopardizing our relationship, or feeling like we are somehow compromising our own values.  Leadership was evident in their transparency, love for Jesus, and dedication toward one another.  In essence, they value relationship over ideology.”
 Adds Todd, “After attending the conclave, I feel like for the first time I can have open conversations with my peers with whom I disagree on the matter of homosexuality. “