New York United Methodist Body Says It Will Ignore Church's Rules on Gay Clergy

The United Methodist Church's New York Annual Conference Center Office, located at White Plains, New York. | (Photo: Beth Patkus, NY Conference Archivist)

A regional body of the United Methodist Church announced its plans to ignore the denominational rules barring non-celibate homosexuals from ordination.

The New York Annual Conference's Board of Ordained Ministry released a statement Tuesday noting that they will no longer consider the sexual orientation or gender identity of an ordination candidate.

"Sexual orientation and gender identity are not and will not be considered in the evaluation of candidates by the Board of Ordained Ministry," reads the statement.

"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."

Dozens of demonstrators demanding a more inclusive church hold vigil at the edge of the May 3 session of the 2012 United Methodist General Conference in Tampa, Florida. | (Photo: UMNS/Paul Jeffrey)

The Rev. William B. Pfohl, chair of the NYAC BOOM and chief signatory of the statement, told The Christian Post that the announcement derived from a regional petition requesting an inquiry into the matter.

"We entertained this request at the May of 2015 plenary meeting, and after some discussion, tabled the items until after we had met with LGBT Clergy currently serving in the Conference," explained Pfohl.

"That meeting took place at the BOOM Plenary retreat in November 2015 held at St. Thomas Seminary in Bloomfield, Connecticut."

The final vote on the released statement took place on Feb. 20, with a supermajority of the New York board approving the standards via secret ballot.

"The NYAC BOOM will not discriminate against candidates for ministry who are currently married or hope to be married regardless of the gender of the spouse with whom they make this sacred covenant before God," said Pfohl to CP.

"We have not and do not intend to question any candidate about their expressions of intimacy with their spouse."

In contrast to other Mainline Protestant denominations, the United Methodist Church maintains that homosexuality is a sin and that marriage can only be between one man and one woman.

These positions have been maintained in part because unlike other American Mainline churches the UMC is a global body, which means many of its members and leadership come from more socially conservative societies and cultures.

Regarding ordination, the UMC's Book of Discipline prohibits homosexuals who are involved in a same-sex relationship from becoming clergy.

"While persons set apart by the Church for ordained ministry are subject to all the frailties of the human condition and the pressures of society, they are required to maintain the highest standards of holy living in the world," reads the Discipline.

"The practice of homosexuality is incompatible with Christian teaching. Therefore self-avowed practicing homosexuals are not to be certified as candidates, ordained as ministers, or appointed to serve in The United Methodist Church."

NYAC is not the only conference in the UMC that has recently announced its decision to ignore the denomination's ordination rules regarding homosexual practice.

Last month the Board of Ordained Ministry of the Baltimore-Washington Conference announced that they recommended a married lesbian to a provisional deacon position.

Debate over the ordination measures laid out in the Discipline, and other matters pertaining to homosexuality, are expected to take place at the denomination's General Conference this coming May.

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