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.
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
- 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:
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
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.
Lillian Parks, Rev. Carletta Allen, Rev. Laurie Gates-Ward, Rev. Kendrick Weaver, Rev. John Wunderlich, Rev.
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
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
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
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
Any changes made will be the new official stance of the denomination. For more information on General Conference, visit www.umc.org/gc2016.
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
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
¶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
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
- “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
- See Judicial Council Decisions 984, 985, 1027, 1028
¶341.6 Ceremonies that celebrate homosexual unions shall not be conducted by our ministers and shall not be conducted in our churches.
¶2702.1 A bishop, clergy member of an annual conference (¶370), local pastor,14