New York Conference BOOM Formally Welcomes LGBTQI Candidates for Ministry

New York Conference BOOM Formally Welcomes LGBTQI Candidates for Ministry

3/1/2016

All persons who seek to glorify God in word and deed and live under the lordship of Jesus Christ are invited to discern and explore their call toward ordination or licensing in the New York Conference. Sexual orientation and gender identity are not and will not be considered in the evaluation of candidates by the Board of Ordained Ministry.

Jesus is the way and the truth; the good shepherd who is life and who comes that we might have life in all its fullness. Jesus comes to seek out and save the lost, prays for those who wound him, and sends out his sheep in the midst of wolves. To live under the lordship of Jesus Christ is a full-time calling of “cross-bearing” service.

Those who seek to make Jesus recognizable must strive not to live in a way that would misrepresent the will of their Lord. It is with this awareness that the NYAC BOOM pursues integrity, transparency, and accountability in fulfilling our own calls to live the Gospel in and through the United Methodist Church. We actively seek the guidance of the Holy Spirit in expectation that God will help us recognize our part in implementing God’s will for the present and future Church.

Facilitating and promoting clergy effectiveness is the fundamental pursuit of all boards of ordained ministry. We are charged to work collaboratively with the bishop and cabinet in both defining and resourcing standards of effectiveness, and thus promote the making of disciples of Jesus Christ for the transformation of the world. These standards are based upon the disciplinary guidelines for the role of clergy (Book of Discipline ¶329, ¶340), but are also intentionally augmented through the discernment of the nuances and challenges of each annual conferences ministry setting(s). This is perhaps why the Book of Discipline continues to mandate that annual conferences be the “fundamental bodies of the Church.”

At a plenary meeting at Memorial/Central Korean UM Church in White Plains on February 20, the BOOM formally responded to conference petition #2014 -303, “Our Vision of a Beloved and Just Community.”  Through this witness, “the New York Annual Conference declares itself to be the place where LGBTQIQ persons can find safe space, an arena for the expression of and celebration of their individual gifts in service and ministry and enjoy the blessings of family and marriage, and participate fully, openly and equally in the life of the church.”

BOOM is amenable to the annual conference, and perhaps that should be enough to guide us in this matter, but long before this petition was passed we recognized that sexual orientation was not a good predictor of fruitfulness in ministry. As a whole, the BOOM has observed vital, effective ministry from clergy married to a spouse of the same sex. Quite simply, discriminating against married persons regardless of the gender of their spouse or against those who hope to be married is not the path we believe God is calling us to walk. We affirm celibacy in singleness and fidelity in marriage between two people as defined by the states of New York and Connecticut. We believe in the high moral and ethical standards of Christian living fundamental to the promotion of integrity and fruitfulness in ministry as defined by the Book of Discipline, but we do not conclude that homosexuality is by definition incompatible with Christian teaching.

Therefore, by vote and with supermajorities of more than 75 percent, the NYAC Board of Ordained ministry:

  1. Formally acknowledges and publicly affirms the 2014 resolution of the NYAC: “Our Vision of a Beloved and Just Community.”
  2. We publicly affirm that lesbian, gay, bi-sexual, transgender, questioning, intersexed, and straight candidates will be given equal consideration and protection in the candidacy process.
  3. We also will inform the district committees on ordained ministry who are amenable to BOOM of these affirmations and instruct them to abide by these guidelines.

Rev. Dr. William B. Pfohl
BOOM chair, 2012-2016
Lead pastor, Jesse Lee Memorial United Methodist Church
Ridgefield, Conn.

Editor’s Note: The Northeastern Jurisdiction Committee on Ministry has sent a petition for consideration to the 2016 General Conference “that enables ministry with LGBTQ persons, while allowing each clergyperson, church, and annual conference freedom to abide by decisions of conscience.” The submitted petition can be found here.