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Statement by J. Philip Wogaman, May 31, 2017

June 3, 2017

Delivered May 31 at the Clergy Executive Session of the Baltimore-Washington Conference

Thank you, bishop and colleagues for this moment of personal privilege. I was ordained an elder almost exactly 60 years ago. My wife Carolyn and I celebrated our 60th anniversary last summer. We have shared the beauties and joys of ministry throughout those years. I have had many privileges and opportunities to serve the church and its people at all levels.

However, my heart breaks for T.C. Morrow and for others like her with gifts and graces for ordained ministry who have been excluded as a result of bad church law, applied legalistically and hurtfully. I’ve had to ask myself, how could I remain inside the association of clergy when someone like her must remain outside and even be stigmatized by language of the Judicial Council?

I have concluded that even now, in the twilight years of my life and ministry, I must join with T.C. and others outside the clergy circle by surrendering my credentials today. I do this with a heavy heart, but knowing that Dietrich Bonhoeffer was right about there being a cost of discipleship at every stage in our life as Christians.

Others here may be tempted to follow my example. I hope not. I beg all of you to remain within the circle. If you think as I do, let me be your representative, carrying with me your affirmation of those who have been excluded and your resolve to seek healing of church law and practice.  And may the grace of the Lord Jesus Christ be with you.

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