DALLAS (CBSDFW.COM) – A retired Dallas pastor says he will perform same sex marriages, even though the church he served for more than 40 years forbids it.

Reverend Bill McElvaney, a retired United Methodist Elder, made the announcement to his congregation at Northhaven United Methodist Church in North Dallas on Sunday.  McElvaney says the heartbreak of the United Methodist’s exclusionary policies led him to this decision.

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“I would consider it a privilege to officiate at a same sex wedding even though marriage is not legal under civil law in Texas,” McElvaney told parishoners.

In his two-page statement, McElvaney talked about the United Methodist pastor from Pennsylvania who was recently stripped of his ministerial duties because he performed a same sex wedding for his son. Reverend Frank Shaefer performed the ceremony 300 miles away from his church several years ago, and was tried by the church in November.

McElvaney says he does not know what charges he could face as a result of his decision.  “I realize that as retired clergy, I have less to lose than clergy under active appointment,” McElvaney told churchgoers.  However, he questioned if he too would be charged, tried and stripped of ministerial credentials and pension.  To protect Northhaven from retribution, McElvaney said he would perform the services away from church property.

McElvaney and Northhaven’s Senior Pastor Eric Folkerth have found two nearby churches (Midway Hills Christian Church and Central Congregational Church) willing to host same sex marriages.  Central Congregation has offered the use of their building free of charge.

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Folkerth said after McElvaney’s announcement, the congregation gave him a five minute standing ovation.  Northhaven has 14 same sex couples who were legally married in other states, according to Folkerth.

“It is past time for us to change our policy, to allow churches in every city and town to reach the people God is calling them to reach,” said Folkerth.

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