In an announcement issued today, the Board of Ordained Ministry (BOOM) of the New York Annual Conference of The United Methodist Church (The UMC) publicly refuses to discriminate against LGBTQ persons who are called into ordained ministry.  In this season of Lent, the church is called to a deeper, more substantive, and more rigorously honest posture of communal self-reflection and confession.  Leading by example, the New York Annual Conference of The UMC joins the Boom of the Baltimore-Washington Annual Conference and stands as John the Baptizer announcing that Its Time—time for the church to repent of its sin, time for the church to welcome and celebrate ALL the baptized, and time for the church to follow Jesus more deeply into the heart of the gospel.

The chair of the New York Annual Conference BOOM, Rev. Dr. William B. Pfohl explained the board’s decision in a statement, “Quite simply, discriminating against married persons regardless of the gender of their spouse or against those who hope to be married is not the path we believe God is calling us to walk.”

In another statement from the Reconciling Ministry in the New York Annual Conference, Methodists in New Directions, Bruce Lamb explained why this decision matters to him as a candidate for ministry and to all LGBTQ persons pursuing ministry in this conference:

“I applaud the Board of Ordained Ministry for taking this prophetic step. The church is now truly welcoming all God’s beloved children and no longer letting the message be to our LGBTQI siblings that their relationships aren’t valid, that their call to minister is not of God, and that they cannot be ordained. It’s spiritually suffocating to live in the closet. I am thankful that I can now continue to follow God in faith as my full authentic self in the ordination process without having to be in the closet. This is a day of new beginnings.”

Today’s announcement mirrors the widespread and increasing practice of Biblical Obedience in The UMC:  faithful clergy everywhere are performing same-sex weddings in greater and greater numbers, lay persons are refusing to follow immoral and sinful church policies that exclude and harm LGBTQ persons, and boards of ordained ministry are admitting qualified LGBTQ candidates to the ordination process.

New York merely declares publicly what is already happening and what will no doubt continue to happen with increasing frequency, courage, and faithfulness in the connectional church everywhere.  With only weeks to go before the General Conference gathers to determine whether or not it will continue to harm LGBTQ persons, the New York Annual Conference today calls the question and asks of the whole church:  choose this day whom you shall follow.

#ItsTime

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Matt Berryman

Matt Berryman serves Reconciling Ministries Network as executive director. Prior to joining the staff of RMN, Matt spent three years in law school at the Florida Coastal School during which time he worked for churches, law firms, and LexisNexis as a legal editor.From 2002-2009, Matt served United Methodist congregations in the Jacksonville area of the Florida Conference.In addition to serving churches in the United Kingdom, he has led training events and workshops for The United Methodist Church, The Fund for Theological Education, Emory University, and the Fellowship of United Methodists for Music and Worship Arts.He received a B.A. from the University of South Carolina and a M.Div. from Emory University. Although he loves the heat and sunshine of Florida, he anticipates growing to love the charm of cold weather living in Illinois and the perfection of the snowflake!Matt loves an outdoor concert, a good idea, and his 14 year old son, Aidan.
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