Earlier today, the Clergy Session of the Baltimore-Washington Conference of The United Methodist Church did not accept the recommendation of the Board of Ordained Ministry (BoOM) to vote T.C. Morrow into provisional membership as a deacon. This is the first time, at least in recent memory, for the clergy session to not follow the recommendation from the BoOM regarding a candidate. While it was with great disappointment that I received this news, we know that God continues to be in our midst, molding and shaping who we are as a people called United Methodists. We affirm T.C.’s witness and her willingness to enter the candidacy process. We ask you to continue to hold her in prayer as she continues her ministry on the staff of the National Religious Campaign Against Torture and through membership at Foundry UMC in Washington, DC.
As the chair of the Baltimore-Washington Area Reconciling United Methodists (BWARM), I appreciate the Board of Ordained Ministry deciding to make public some details of the discussions that lead to its motion related to consideration of LGBTQ candidates for ordained ministry. Intentionality, facilitated conversations and identifying foundational values are valuable modeling in decision making in a world that is too often polarized and too often exploits differences. One only need to look at responses to the Black Lives Matters movement or the Syrian refugee crisis, or the drivers including racism, fundamentalism and war, to see the critical need for strong leadership in our world.
Even as our denomination remains locked in differences that have many underlying factors but have often been expressed in terms of opposition to LGBTQ persons as full participants in the life of the church, God continues to call LGBTQ persons to leadership in the church. Our United Methodist connection suffers when sisters and brothers in Christ have had to take their gifts to other denominations in order to serve openly in pastoral ministry or when they have lived under “don’t ask, don’t tell.” We honor the ministries of those who have chosen to abide by “don’t ask, don’t tell,” but as noted in “A LOVE LETTER TO OUR CHURCH FROM YOUR LGBTQI RELIGIOUS LEADERS,” costs to serving in the closet include congregations “not receiv[ing] the fullness of their pastor’s gifts because a core part must remain hidden.”
As BWARM joins many in looking to the Council of Bishops to name a special commission to review the parts of the Book of Discipline that explicitly relate to LGBTQ persons, we are in prayer for the Holy Spirit to make a new way forward for God’s people called United Methodists. As LGBTQ persons continue to discern a call to serve in ordained ministry in the UMC, we pray that God be with them as they struggle to break through the constraints the church has put on that ministry so that they may bring the fullness of their being to their ministry.
Chair, Baltimore-Washington Area Reconciling United Methodists (BWARM)