PNW Board of Ordained Ministry releases statement on ministry candidates, sexual orientation, and gender identity


By Patrick Scriven
May 6, 2016  SEATTLE, Wash.

When it met yesterday at Ronald United Methodist Church just north of Seattle, the Pacific Northwest Conference Board of Ordained Ministry had an item on its agenda that was distinct from its normal business of considering ministerial candidates, approving status change requests, and reporting on the work of subcommittees focused on items like clergy wellness.

Meeting in close proximity to the 2016 United Methodist General Conference, the board would discuss, craft, and release the following statement, a coming out, so to speak:

“We, the Board of Ordained Ministry of the Pacific Northwest Conference, hold our clergy and candidates to the highest standards of faithful and holy living. For some time, our practice has been to affirm that people of all sexual orientations and gender identities can live up to our high standards for fitness, readiness, and effectiveness in ministry.  We will continue to give all candidates equal consideration, as we believe it is the most faithful way to do our work.

At this critical time in the history of The United Methodist Church, we believe it is important to state explicitly how we have been operating implicitly. We stand in solidarity with and fully support all of our colleagues and candidates in ministry who endeavor to transform our world through God’s grace.”

Adopted enthusiastically and unanimously on May 5, 2016

The board’s succinct statement follows other expressions of similar commitment from both the Baltimore-Washington and New York Annual Conferences in February and March of this year, respectively. Earlier this week, Rev. Charles A. Parker, chair of the Baltimore-Washington Board of Ordained Ministry, and Rev. William B. Pfohl of the New York Conference, wrote a joint letter encouraging other boards of ordained ministry to join them in “not inquir[ing] about the sexual orientation of their candidates.” The letter marked parallel moments in Wesleyan history while evoking themes from Dr. Martin Luther King’s Letter from a Birmingham Jail.

As alluded to in the PNW Board’s statement, how The United Methodist Church will relate to LGBTQ persons is a question expected to receive much attention when General Conference begins in Portland, Oregon next Tuesday. Delegates to the conference will consider more than 100 pieces of legislation on the topic, roughly a tenth of the items they’ll deliberate upon.

Inquiries regarding the PNW Board of Ordained Ministry can be directed to:
Rev. Gregg Sealey, Chair, 509-720-4366


  1. As a UM pastor in the Southeast, I am glad to know of this candid declaration from the BOM. Not because I agree with them, but because they have established clear lines of division in our tribe. Lines that are not acceptable. This divisiveness makes the idea of separation so much easier to bear. I’m ready to move forward in separate ways.

  2. […] Because of The Book of Discipline’s policy denying LGBTQ persons into membership, the PNW had traditionally followed a “don’t ask, don’t tell” approach to the interviews. During the years I was involved, that approach evolved into a more inclusive atmosphere Our questions spoke of our commitment to diversity, and queried the candidates on how they would, themselves, work towards such an end. We were delighted when one candidate, when asked whether he would follow the rules of The Book of Discipline said, “I will follow it, until I can’t.” Just days before General Conference 2016, to be held in Portland, we released our video statement “making explicit what we had been doing implicitly.” […]

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