The PNW Board of Ordained Ministry takes seriously its role of identifying, nurturing and accompanying all who respond to God’s call to professional ministry. In 2016 our Board of Ordained Ministry adopted the following “Statement on Ministry Candidates, Sexual Orientation, and Gender Identity”:
“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.”
We have renewed our commitment to this statement several times since first adopting it, most recently at our 2022 Spring meeting. Since 2016 we have also developed Safe Harbor processes designed to aid clergy and candidates in other conferences who need a safe place to be in covenant community and live into God’s call to ministry.
As followers of Jesus and siblings who share this sacred commitment of supporting candidates for ministry, we grieve with all who are impacted by the recent vote of the Clergy Session of the Florida Annual Conference not to approve an entire slate of candidates for provisional membership because two of these candidates identify as LGBTQIA+. We grieve the harm done to these 16 candidates for commissioning but also the harm done to the many LGBTQIA+ persons inside the United Methodist Church and around the world. We grieve the harm done to the Body of Christ whenever people are marginalized, excluded, or devalued.
We plan to send a letter of support and solidarity to the 16 candidates impacted by the actions of the FLUMC Clergy Session and have reached to the Board of Ordained ministry of the Florida Annual Conference to send it to them. We have sent the following letter to the Board of Ordained Ministry of the Florida Annual Conference so share our grief, our support and our commitment to work together for better church.
Dear BOM Colleagues of the Florida Annual Conference,
As members of the Board of Ordained Ministry in the Pacific Northwest, we write to you in love, in deep grief, and in solidarity. As boards of ordained ministry, we carry a sacred task to accompany and commend candidates along their path toward ordination. Thank you for your faithful commitment to this work. What transpired in the FLUMC clergy session horrifies us. In its callous and cynical rejection of your mindful work, the clergy session deeply harmed candidates who have shared their lives, calling, and their tenderest truths as they have sought to serve Jesus Christ through the United Methodist Church. It affects real life careers, but even more significantly, this harm is soul harm that will be carried for a lifetime.
We recognize the deep brokenness in our denomination, the hate that fuels anti-LGBTQIA+ rhetoric and actions, and the disingenuous behaviors of those who would see our denomination fail. We pledge to work for a better church, one that more closely aligns with the heart of grace we find and experience in Jesus Christ. We reach out to you and to your candidates to offer not only words of care and support; we offer our annual conference as a place of safe harbor for those candidates, should they choose such a pathway.
May God be with you in the days ahead as you work to bring healing to those harmed and as you continue the sacred work of identifying, nurturing and accompanying all who respond to God’s call to professional ministry.
As siblings in Christ and partners in ministry,
The Board of Ordained Ministry of the Pacific Northwest Annual Conference
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