Bishop James Dorff resigning due to improper relations

The following statement was just released by United Methodist Communitcations:

Bishop DorffSan Antonio, Texas — Bishop James Dorff of the Rio Texas Conference of The United Methodist Church will voluntarily resign and surrender his credentials effective January 1, 2016.

The announcement comes from Bishop Michael McKee, President of the South Central Jurisdictional College of Bishops. The College of Bishops accepted Bishop Dorff’s resignation following a complaint.

In a letter to be released later today, Bishop Dorff stated the following:

“It is so difficult to admit and share, but I must inform you that I did not uphold the sacred vows I made to God at my wedding, at my consecration as bishop, and at my ordination as elder. I crossed what were the clear expectations of relational boundaries.

For this transgression, I am profoundly sorry. I offer my sincerest apologies to all concerned. My actions have caused pain to many, including my family, the person involved, each of you, members of the annual conference, and the greater church. I am so, so sorry.”

Bishop McKee said that an interim bishop will be appointed to serve beginning in January. Until the interim bishop is appointed, Bishop McKee will provide episcopal oversight.

“This is a difficult situation for everyone involved, but we are confident that the ongoing ministries of the conference will continue under the capable leadership of the experienced, faithful conference staff and laity,” said Bishop McKee, who will work with the leaders of the Rio Texas Conference to assure a smooth transition.

During the South Central Jurisdictional Conference in July 2016, a new bishop for the Rio Texas Conference will be appointed to a term beginning onSeptember 1, 2016. The Rio Texas Conference serves South Texas with nearly 400 churches.

Bishop Dorff was elected to the episcopacy in 2008. Prior to his election, he served as a pastor in the North Texas Conference for 36 years.


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34 Comments on "Bishop James Dorff resigning due to improper relations"

The United Methodist Reporter wants to encourage lively conversation about The United Methodist Church and our articles in the belief that Christian conversation (what Wesley would call conferencing) is a means of grace. While we support passionate debate, we cannot allow language that demeans or demonizes others, and we reserve the right to delete any comment we believe to be harmful or inappropriate. We encourage all to remember that we are all broken and in need of Christ's grace, and that we all see through the glass darkly until that time we when reach full perfection in love. May your speech here be tempered with love, and reflection of the fruits of love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control. After all, "There is no law against things like this." (Galatians 5:22-23)
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Let me start off by saying that no one is a good man. I know I am one stupid decision away from sin and disaster every day of my life and I believe everyone else may be as well. That is simply my world view. As to all the good works this man has done that is great but that means little to me as far as this discussion goes. As best I can tell he was caught having an affair. He did not have an attack of conscience but was reported by someone. Only then did he admit to… Read more »

Ok, also want to know if he continues to receive life time salary, as UMC bishops incredibly receive salary until
death, not talking about pension. Seems the “apology” is weak or non existent.

Frank Treahel

Agreed. He was brave to do this. I’m not even brave enough to cheat on my wife in the first place.

Cheryl Nolan

Improper relations is a softer term for Clergy Sexual Misconduct. Praying that the restorative justice process is healing for all affected, especially the victim-survivor. It take enormous amounts to courage for the victim-survivor to speak their truth.



Ted Griffy

Jims’ father was my pastor at fumc in Oklahoma City. I worked with Jim in the North Texas Conference and am saddened by this event. May God be with all those affected by this tragic situation.

frank edwards

I have one name to put forward as a candidate for Bishop of the Texas Conference: Rev. Bob Allen, recenlty the pastor of Kerrville FUMC, and a man devoted to his wife of 40+ years, and his family. His wisdom, integrity, and leadership qualities are, in my opinion, second to none.

George Nixon Shuler
I’m not really seeing the issues you raise as related to this specific situation at all. One could argue the Bishop in the case was all of the above with one possible exception. It seems our American traditions of pecksniffery, Comstockery, and wowserism often get in the way of a reasonable view of such issues. Perhaps we have much to learn from the French: the late Gaullist (conservative) Prime Minister Georges Pompidou’s funeral was planned jointly by his wife and his mistress. Mme. Pompidou easily forgave the PM’s transgressions with “He was in love.” Even so, a dual relationship between… Read more »

If he stood up and said he had an affair that it was stupid and created significant damage and then asked for forgiveness I could respect that. A man should own up to what he has done. What he said was he crossed “relational boundaries”. That is weasel wording that looks like it was drafted by a lawyer. Such phrasing can only be viewed with contempt.

David Goudie
(The enemy hates clarity) that’s a good and essential question, especially considering bishops being elected this next year. I went on our jurisdiction (north central) website to look at the questions they ask. There are 4 headings for questions. 1 spiritual leadership 2 transformational leadership 3 administration leadership 4 adaptive leadership the only one that I thought might relate to your question is under spiritual leadership where they examine ‘demonstrates commitment to Wesleyan understanding of personal and social holiness. Models self care and relational health. Demonstrates self awareness, humility, and confidence.’ having not been at the interview process myself I… Read more »
Dottie Dunnam
The many who look at organized religion as invalid and hypocritical will revel in the transgressions of our own Jim Dorff. His choices have hurt me deep inside where I need confidence in the integrity of our elected leaders. The great United Methodist Church does not need to be made a laughingstock and Jim’s adultery will hurt our mission, as well as hurt Barbara and their children. I believe that his forthright, complete, and quick resignation is appropriate and probably as honorable an action as he can manage in this new reality. However, it behooves the rest of us to… Read more »
No one is perfect. We do not know or need to know the details of the events that led to the resignation. This is a man who by most accounts faithfully served in the UMC for his entire life. If in fact he did commit adultery which we do not know so let’s defer judgement then he must sort that out with his family. Let’s not forget that the ancestor of Joseph (Joseph, Mary and Jesus) was King Solomon according to the book of Matthew. King David and Ba’athsheeba were Solomon’s parents so even a very famous case of Adultery… Read more »
K of Austin

Very well said E. None of us is without sin.

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