BOOM report addresses full LGBTQI+ inclusion

June 3, 2017

After significant deliberation, the Baltimore-Washington Conference Board of Ordained Ministry voted in May not to move TC Morrow forward in the process of becoming an ordained Deacon in The United Methodist Church. Morrow remains a certified candidate who has been approved by the Board for commissioning.

Morrow, a lesbian, entered the candidacy process Oct. 23, 2013, and was brought before the 2016 Clergy Session to be voted on a Provisional Deacon. The 2016 Clergy Session did not approve Morrow last year, and returned her to the care of the Board. 

With this year's decision, the Board of Ordained Ministry acted in accordance with the official position of the denomination as outlined in the Book of Discipline.

The Rev. C. Anthony Hunt, chair of the Board of Ordained Ministry, addressed this decision in his report to the 2017 annual conference session on June 1.  His remarks are below.


2017 Report of the Board of Ordained Ministry

Blessings –

My name is Rev. C. Anthony Hunt, and I serve as lead pastor of Epworth Chapel United Methodist Church in Baltimore, and as chair of the Baltimore-Washington Conference Board of Ordained Ministry. 

During the past Conference year, the Baltimore-Washington Conference Board of Ordained Ministry has served on behalf of the annual conference and all of us who are called to representative ministry in the Church as licensed, commissioned and ordained persons. The Board is comprised of 54 lay and clergy persons who serve on behalf of more than 1000 persons under our care as either candidates for ministry, commissioned provisional members, deacons and elders in full connection, and retired members. 

We are grateful to God for Bishop LaTrelle Easterling for her encouragement, guidance and support of our work throughout this year, and we are grateful for each of you for your prayers for the Board’s work on our behalf.  As we embarked on a new quadrennium after the 2016 General Conference, we as a Board worked throughout the past year to clarify the values and the principles that guide our work. To accomplish this, the full board engaged in a two-day process of retreat, prayer and discernment, and arrived at the place of affirming six guiding principles and 15 values, which include: Honesty and Transparency, Humility, Openness to the Holy Spirit, Deep Listening, and Justice that goes towards fairness and treating everyone in our processes equally.

In accordance with ¶ 635 of the 2016 Book of Discipline, an important part of the Board of Ordained Ministry’s work is serving as stewards of the process of supporting, evaluating and examining persons who offer themselves as candidates for ordained ministry. Our eight district committees on ministry and the BOOM have worked tirelessly throughout the year to ensure that processes of evaluation and examination are accomplished with clarity, integrity and fairness for all candidates and provisional members under our care. We have also worked to perfect several of the policies and procedures that inform our work, including policies and procedures for approving continuing education, the use of Ministerial Education funds, and for evaluating candidates for ministry. We will continue to do so in the coming year.

In the coming year, we as a Board will also participate in cultural competency training, and we will be working to develop a framework for supporting and resourcing clergy and churches that are a part of cross-racial/cross-cultural appointments.

Like the whole church, our denomination, the Baltimore-Washington Conference and many persons in our local churches - the members of the Board of Ordained Ministry is a group of diverse, faithful persons who acknowledge that we are not of one mind on a number of important matters confronting the church and society. One of these issues regards full LGBTQI+ inclusion in the life of the church and its ministries. The Board of Ordained Ministry continues to review its policies and practices in light of the 2016 Book of Discipline and declarative decisions from the Judicial Council on April 28, 2017 pertaining to the qualifications for ordination in The United Methodist Church. 

In our discernment, the Board recognizes that the Judicial Council, in its recent declarative decisions, did not change, add or delete disciplinary language or requirements to the candidacy, licensing, and ordination processes, and that Boards of Ordained Ministry are not at liberty to disregard qualifications for licensed and ordained ministry in its evaluation and examination processes.

Thus, after considerable prayer and discernment at our May 2017 meeting, the Board will form a task force to review our policies and procedures to ensure that we are appropriately examining our candidates. In the meantime, we will continue to follow the procedure for evaluation and interviewing candidates as laid out in the Book of Discipline, making a “full examination” of those seeking local pastor licenses, commissioning, and full membership in our annual conference. The standards that we will continue to follow are found in ¶ 310, 324, 330 and 335 of the Book of Discipline for provisional membership, deacon and elder respectively.

As a part of our ongoing thorough “full examination” process of all candidates, we have used those questions found in their respective paragraphs as well as other resources such as background and credit checks, psychological examinations, reviews of Bible studies and sermons, fruitfulness projects, interviews, site visits, medical reports, recommendations, and academic transcripts to arrive at our decision to recommend the 18 candidates we will bring before you today, and those who have been recommended in previous years.

It continues to be our commitment and practice to welcome people of diverse backgrounds and perspectives into the sacred process of ordination, and to give all candidates just and fair consideration in our process of discerning those who can live up to the high standards for fitness, readiness and effectiveness in ministry that the Baltimore-Washington Conference expects. We will continue to seek and affirm candidates who uphold these standards. 

As a Board, and in light of the most recent Judicial Council decisions, we look with hope to the work of the Commission on the Way Forward and their report in February 2019. The Baltimore-Washington Conference BOOM task force will provide an update of our discernment and work at the 2018 Clergy Executive Session and Annual Conference, and then make our final report to the Clergy Executive Session and Annual Conference in 2019 following the report and decisions of the Commission on the Way Forward.

We solicit your prayers for this very important work and look with hope to the day when The United Methodist Church will reflect God’s gracious expression of what it means to be Beloved Community.

I would like to take this opportunity to thank Rev. John Nupp, the Director of the Center for Clergy Excellence for his outstanding leadership in managing and facilitating the perfecting of the Board’s practices for supporting clergy and those preparing for ordained ministry, and Mrs. Debbie Albrecht for her stellar administrative support of the Board of Ordained Ministry’s work. 

As we move into the next Conference year, we continue to solicit your prayers for all of our work on your behalf, for each of us who seek to serve Christ in the representative ministries of the church, for the Baltimore-Washington Conference, The United Methodist Church, and Christ’s Church universal.

Respectfully and humbly submitted -

Rev. Dr. C. Anthony Hunt, Chair
BWC Board of Ordained Ministry

As a prisoner for the Lord, then, I urge you to live a life worthy of the calling you have received. Be completely humble and gentle; be patient, bearing with one another in love. Make every effort to keep the unity of the Spirit through the bond of peace. There is one body and one Spirit, just as you were called to one hope when you were called; one Lord, one faith, one baptism; one God of all, who is over all and through all and in all.

Ephesians 4:1-6