News and Views

Board of Ordained Ministry Q & A

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The Baltimore-Washington Conference Board of Ordained Ministry has voted to recommend to the Clergy Executive Session, Tara “T.C.” Morrow as a provisional Deacon. Morrow is a woman who is married to a woman.

A story on this decision and a statement from the Board of Ordained Ministry are online.

Q:  What does the 2012 Book of Discipline, the law book for the denomination, say on this issue?
A: BOOM leaders cited six paragraphs as being especially pertinent in their discernment. They included paragraphs: 140, 161(F), 162(J), 304.3, 341.6, and  2702.1.

The text of these disciplinary paragraphs is at the bottom of this Q&A page.

Q: Does the Board of Ordained Ministry believe this recommendation will be upheld by the Judicial Council, which serves as a kind of Supreme Court for the denomination?
A: Yes, BOOM leaders say they are hopeful it will. In their discernment, they reviewed serval pertinent Judicial Council rulings: particularly 1027 and 980; also 1263, 1262, 1244, 1218, 1027, 944, and 920. To see the text of these decisions, visit the online resource Judicial Council Decisions Search.

In determining, among other things, the definition of a self-avowed practicing homosexual, BOOM leaders said the follow two decisions were helpful:

  • Decision 1027: (In Re: Appeal by the Eastern Pennsylvania Annual Conference of The United Methodist Church from the Decision of the Northeast Jurisdiction Committee on Appeals in the Matter of Rev. Irene Elizabeth Stroud)
  • Decision 980: (In Re: Appeal From The Decision Of The Committee On Appeals In The Western Jurisdiction In The Matter Of The Rev. Karen Dammann)

Q: Who is on the Board of Ordained Ministry?
A: There are 53 members, chosen by the bishop from recommendations from district superintendents and others. The members represent the geographical diversity of the conference; about 20 percent are lay members.

According to the Conference Leadership report, found on pages 533-534 of the 2015 Conference Journal, BOOM members include:

Western Region:
Rev. Susan Boehl,  Rev. Steve Robison, Rev. Mary Jo Sims, Rev. William Warehime, Jr., Rev. Sarah Schlieckert, Rev. John Rudisill, Lakita Edwards, Rev. Duane Jensen, Rev. Eliezer Valentín-Castañón, Richard Willson, Rev. Malcolm Stranathan

Washington Region:
Clint Stretch, Rev. Rachel Cornwell, Rev. Charlie Parker, Rev. Donna Sokol, Rev. Jane Wood, Rev. HiRho Park, Rev. Stephanie Vader, Alveta Jones, David Norton. Rev. Stacey Wilson, Rev. Ianther Mills, Rev. Mandy Sayers, Rev. Rodney Smothers, Rev. EunJoung Joo , Rev. Esther Holimon

Southern Region:
Lillian Parks, Rev. Carletta Allen, Rev. Laurie Gates-Ward, Rev. Kendrick Weaver, Rev. John Wunderlich,   Rev. Mernie Crane, Rev. Ron Foster, Rev. Jen Karsner, Rev. Lena Marie Dennis, Kevin West

Baltimore Region:
Merle Bayne, Lynne Wilmer, Rev. Mary Ellen Glorioso, Rev. Norman Obenshain, Rev. Scott Shumaker, Rev. Anthony Hunt, Rev. Gary Sheffield-James, Rev. Amy McCullough, Rev. John Nupp, Rev. William Butler, Ray Moseley, Rev. Jason Jordan-Griffin Rev. Byron E. Brought

Associate Member and/or Local Pastor: Rev. George Hackey
Deacon: Rev. Al Hammer, Rev. Lee Ferrell
Chair of the Order of Elders: Rev. Melissa Rudolph
Chair of the Order of Deacons: Rev. Janet Craswell
Chair of the Fellowship of Local Pastors and Associate Members: Rev. George Hackey
Retired Person: Rev. Mary Jo Sims
Conference Representative: Rev. Rebecca Iannicelli

Q: What is a Deacon?
A: Deacons are called by God to a lifetime of servant leadership. They are ordained by a bishop and, rather than being itinerate like Elders, find their own ministries of Word, service, compassion and justice, which must then be approved by the bishop as a suitable appointment. According to the Discipline (328), it is the Deacons, in both person and function, whose distinctive ministry is to embody, articulate and lead the whole people of God in its servant ministry.

Q: What is Commissioning?
A: The bishop commissions provisional members as Deacons or Elders. In this act, the church publicly acknowledges God’s call and the response, talents, gifts and training of the candidate. Commissioned Deacons and Elders serve in a kind of “residency program” as they progress toward ordination and BOOM discerns their fitness for ordination and their effectiveness for ministry. (See 325.) BOOM recommends candidates for commissioning. Prior to their recommendation they must receive the approval of their local church and District Committee on Ministry. (This process is spelled out in 310.)  Morrow is a member of Foundry UMC in Washington and a member of the Greater Washington District.

Q: Is the commissioning and ordination processes for a Deacon the same as that for an Elder?
A: Yes, the requirements for provisional membership are outlined in 324 of the Book of Discipline. The process to be ordained as a Deacon is outlined in 330.

Q: During the process, what percentage of the vote of BOOM members is required for a candidate to be recommended to the clergy executive session?
A: The Discipline requires a two-thirds vote of BOOM members. However, the Baltimore-Washington Conference Board of Ordained Ministry has set the voting requirement to recommend a candidate at three-quarters majority.

Q: When does the clergy executive session meet?
A: The session meets June 1, at 2 p.m., at the Wardman Park Marriot Hotel in Washington, D.C.

Q: How is Bishop Marcus Matthews, the episcopal leader of the Baltimore-Washington Conference, responding to the BOOM recommendation?
A: Bishop Matthews was made aware of the actions of the Board. However, the Discipline outlines a distinct separation between the work of BOOM and the episcopal office. The bishop, who presides at the clergy executive session and the Annual Conference Session, can only rule on the suitability of a candidate if a question is raised during the clergy or Annual Conference Sessions.

Q: What will happen to the United Methodist stance on homosexuality, and to specific people in the ordination process, after General Conference meets May 10-20, 2016?
A:  General Conference is the only body that can change the policies and laws of The United Methodist Church. This year in Portland, of the 1,044 resolutions that will be considered, 99 of them center on issues concerning the LGBT community. Many of these resolutions center around three approaches to the church’s response to issues human sexuality.

Some groups, like the Baltimore-Washington Conference, have sent resolutions calling for the striking of language and practice that discriminates against the LGBT community from the Book of Discipline. Others are proposing a “Covenantal Unity Plan” that calls for full accountability for pastors who violate the letter of the law outlined in the Book of Discipline and provides a way for those who object to current church law to “disaffiliate without the loss of property and in a ministry-affirming way.” And, the Connectional Table, the denominational body charged with overseeing the vision and mission of the church, has proposed “The Third Way.” This resolution grants individual clergy the authority to decide whether or not to perform a same-gender marriage within their ministry context if civil law allows it. This resolution also gives each annual conference the authority to decide whether or not to ordain gay and lesbian candidates.

Any changes made will be the new official stance of the denomination. For more information on General Conference, visit

What the Book of Discipline says about homosexuality and ordination

Called to Inclusiveness
¶140. We recognize that God made all creation and saw that it was good. As a diverse people of God who bring special gifts and evidences of God’s grace to the unity of the Church and to society, we are called to be faithful to the example of Jesus’ ministry to all persons.

Inclusiveness means openness, acceptance, and support that enables all persons to participate in the life of the Church, the community, and the world; therefore, inclusiveness denies every semblance of discrimination. The services of worship of every local church of The United Methodist Church shall be open to all persons.

The mark of an inclusive society is one in which all persons are open, welcoming, fully accepting, and supporting of all other persons, enabling them to participate fully in the life of the church, the community, and the world. A further mark of inclusiveness is the setting of church activities in facilities accessible to persons with disabilities.

In The United Methodist Church inclusiveness means the freedom for the total involvement of all persons who meet the requirements of The United Methodist Book of Discipline in the membership and leadership of the Church at any level and in every place. In the spirit of this declaration, United Methodist seminaries will make all efforts to meet Americans with Disabilities (ADA) accessibility standards by the year 2011. Exemptions for historical or existing buildings are not allowed under this requirement.

Human Sexuality
¶161(F): We affirm that sexuality is God’s good gift to all persons. We call everyone to responsible stewardship of this sacred gift.

Although all persons are sexual beings whether or not they are married, sexual relations are affirmed only with the covenant of monogamous, heterosexual marriage.

We deplore all forms of the commercialization, abuse, and exploitation of sex. We call for strict global enforcement of laws prohibiting the sexual exploitation of children and for adequate protection, guidance, and counseling for abused children. All persons, regardless of age, gender, marital status, or sexual orientation, are entitled to have their human and civil rights ensured and to be protected against violence. The Church should support the family in providing age-appropriate education regarding sexuality to children, youth, and adults.

We affirm that all persons are individuals of sacred worth, created in the image of God. All persons need the ministry of the Church in their struggles for human fulfillment, as well as the spiritual and emotional care of a fellowship that enables reconciling relationships with God, with others, and with self. The United Methodist Church does not condone the practice of homosexuality and considers this practice incompatible with Christian teaching. We affirm that God’s grace is available to all. We will seek to live together in Christian community, welcoming, forgiving, and loving one another, as Christ has loved and accepted us.  We implore families and churches not to reject or condemn lesbian and gay members and friends. We commit ourselves to be in ministry for and with all persons.

Equal Rights Regardless of Sexual Orientation
¶162(J) Certain basic human rights and civil liberties are due all persons. We are committed to supporting those rights and liberties for all persons, regardless of sexual orientation. We see a clear issue of simple justice in protecting the rightful claims where people have shared material resources, pensions, guardian relationships, mutual powers of attorney, and other such lawful claims typically attendant to contractual relationships that involve shared contributions, responsibilities, and liabilities, and equal protection before the law. Moreover, we support efforts to stop violence and other forms of coercion against all persons, regardless of sexual orientation.

Qualifications for Ordination
¶304.3 While persons set apart by the Church for ordained ministry are subject to all the frailties of the human condition and the pressures of society, they are required to maintain the highest standards of holy living in the world. The practice of homosexuality is incompatible with Christian teaching. Therefore self-avowed practicing homosexuals1 are not to be certified as candidates, ordained as ministers, or appointed to serve in The United Methodist Church.2

  1. “Self-avowed practicing homosexual” is understood to mean that a person openly acknowledges to a bishop, district superintendent, district committee of ordained ministry, board of ordained ministry, or clergy session that the person is a practicing homosexual. See Judicial Council Decisions 702, 708, 722, 725, 764, 844, 984, 1020
  2. See Judicial Council Decisions 984, 985, 1027, 1028

Homosexual Unions
¶341.6 Ceremonies that celebrate homosexual unions shall not be conducted by our ministers and shall not be conducted in our churches.

Chargeable Offenses
¶2702.1 A bishop, clergy member of an annual conference (¶370), local pastor,14 clergy on honorable or administrative location, or diaconal minister may be tried when charged (subject to the statute of limitations in ¶2702.4) with one or more of the following offenses: (a) immorality including but not limited to, not being celibate in singleness or not faithful in a heterosexual marriage; (b) practices declared by The United Methodist Church to be incompatible with Christian teachings, including but not limited to: being a self-avowed practicing homosexual; or conducting ceremonies which celebrate homosexual unions; or performing same-sex wedding ceremonies; (c) crime; (d) disobedience to the order and discipline of The United Methodist Church; (e) dissemination of doctrines contrary to the established standards of doctrine of The United Methodist Church; (f) relationships and/or behavior that undermines the ministry of another pastor; (g) child abuse; (h) sexual abuse; (i) sexual misconduct; or (j) harassment, including, but not limited to racial and/or sexual harassment; or (k) racial or gender discrimination.