Aley United Methodist Church embraces same-sex marriages

Aley United Methodist Church and its pastor the Rev. Eston Williams have long extended welcome to all people, including the Cedar Creek Lake's sizable LGBT community.

In July the congregation took it a step further by voting to go against the Methodist doctrine by approving marriages between same-sex couples and allowing them to be performed in the church.

Of the 87 members, 69 voted to allow the marriages in the sanctuary, eight sought to prohibit them in the church but recognize such marriages performed elsewhere and two members were undecided, according to a report in the Athens Daily Review.

Williams, whose wife and children have lived in the Cedar Creek Lake area 30 years, said the church's congreation risked being charged with breaking church law and tried for the offense.

Williams said that if the North Texas Conference of the Methodist Church took such action and dismissed him and other clergy, he would start a new congregation independent of the United Methodist Church.

"At the end of the day, I'd rather be excluded for who I include than included for who I exclude," Williams told the Athens newspaper.

Williams and other clergy taking such action regarding same-sex marriages is asking the General Conference of the Methodist Church not to try any pastor who conducts same-sex marriages and to not penalize any church allowing a same-sex marriage.

Northaven United Methodist Church in Dallas also voted to perform same-sex marriages.

Prominent members of Aley United Methodist Church include Gun Barrel City Mayor Jim Braswell and retired Judge Ron Chapman.

Cedar Creek Lake also has a predominantly LGBT church in the Payne Springs area known as Celebration on the Lake Church.

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