“Don’t ask, don’t tell” practices end in Baltimore-Washington Conference of The UMC

Thursday, February 11, 2016

by Matt Berryman

 

Today the Board of Ordained Ministry of the Baltimore-Washington Conference issued a statement regarding the process through which they affirmed the call of God upon the life of T.C. Morrow, a married lesbian and member of Foundry United Methodist Church.

We celebrate today’s news, not simply because it is an affirmation of the gifts for ministry of queer people of God everywhere, but in particular, because the decision was made in the light of day – in a spirit of full transparency. The chair of the board, Rev. Charles Parker, expressed the board’s intention to rid the denomination of its “unhealthy ‘don’t ask, don’t tell’ model.” Through a process of discernment, holy conferencing, and deep engagement with the Book of Discipline and pertinent Judicial Council rulings, the board adopted  a policy to examine candidates for ordination based on their credentials for ministry, not their God-given identities.

LGBTQ folks have been lavishing their gifts for ministry upon The United Methodist Church under the burden of secrecy for decades, but what is genuinely unique here is the board’s integrity in its decision to stand openly by their word and deed. The courage displayed by the Baltimore-Washington Board of Ordained Ministry is predicated upon an original courage, an original faithfulness, and an original grace displayed by T.C. – she refuses to compromise the fullness of her baptismal identity as a queer person of God.

In a statement of support, Rev. Ginger Gaines-Cirelli, senior pastor at Foundry UMC, shared about T.C.’s gifts for ministry exhibited through her membership at Foundry:

“Foundry UMC has been blessed for fourteen years to call T. C. Morrow a member of the family. T.C. has been generous in sharing her gifts of leadership in a wide variety of ministries, serving as a wise mentor to youth, a thoughtful collaborator in committee work, a creative planner for retreats, a caring presence for the elderly, and a tireless advocate and organizer for social justice.  Her devotion to God, commitment to The United Methodist Church, and graces for ordained ministry are palpable and powerful. We wholeheartedly affirm, support, and celebrate T.C.’s continued journey toward ministry as a Deacon in Full Connection.”

T.C. stated her gratitude for the board’s leadership by saying, “As I reflect on the intentional process the BoOM undertook to respectfully interview all candidates fairly, I am thankful for the same commitment to honesty and openness that I seek to live by. Having participated in the “circles of grace” at the Annual Conference the last two years, as a lay member from Foundry, I know there is opportunity for holy moments in the midst of open conversations, even when challenging.”

The drumbeat of justice grows stronger as we move toward the General Conference. More and more people, churches, and annual conferences are realizing, finally, that it’s time for the church to embrace all its LGBTQ clergy — those who serve faithfully in secret and those who can serve in full transparency — in accordance with the spirit of the Book of Discipline, and for the well-being of the whole people of God.

 

 

Original publication located at: http://www.rmnetwork.org/newrmn/dont-ask-dont-tell-practices-end-in-baltimore-washington-conference-of-the-umc/