Just-Resolution Agreements Reached Between NTC Clergy Members

Durham, Marshall, Folkerth

Separate complaints filed by a retired clergy member of the North Texas Conference following a same-gender wedding ceremony have been mediated to final disposition with just-resolution agreements filed between the three parties.

Bishop Michael McKee requested that Mr. Bill Waddell mediate the complaints filed by Rev. Fred Durham against Rev. Ben Marshall, a retired North Texas Conference clergy member, and Rev. Eric Folkerth, senior pastor of Northaven United Methodist Church.

Rev. Marshall performed a same-gender wedding ceremony that took place April 22, 2017, in violation of paragraphs 341.6 and 2702.1b of the 2016 Book of Discipline. Rev. Folkerth was considered host of the wedding because of his pastorate at the church where the ceremony took place, in violation of paragraph 341.6. Rev. Marshall and Rev. Folkerth both acknowledge they are “sorry for any harm … caused to those who disagree with [their] understanding of [their] pastoral calling and covenant.”

In a letter to the clergy dated June 26, 2015, following the U.S. Supreme Court decision legalizing same-gender marriage, Bishop McKee outlined what was permissible for clergy to do in a same-gender ceremony. As such, all clergy – as part of their covenant – agree to “support and maintain” our Church government and polity. (2016 BOD 336.13). Additionally, the lay and clergy members of the 2016 North Texas Annual Conference adopted a resolution stipulating that, until the Commission on a Way Forward completes its work, members of the North Texas Conference would be bound to uphold the Book of Discipline.

Under United Methodist Church complaint procedures, a just resolution “focuses on repairing any harm to people and communities, achieving real accountability by making things right in so far as possible and bringing healing to all the parties.” The successful completion of the just-resolution process in these matters has accomplished these goals.

Published: Tuesday, September 26, 2017