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