Regional United Methodist Body Votes Against Commissioning Married Lesbian as Deacon

Unofficial Ordination
A group of LGBT-affirming United Methodist Church clergy and church members hold an unofficial ordination for lesbian activist Sue Laurie at the United Methodist Church's 2016 General Conference in Portland, Oregon, on May 10, 2016. |

A regional body within the United Methodist Church rejected the commissioning of a married lesbian as a deacon, a move that would have likely defied denominational rules.

The Baltimore-Washington Annual Conference's Board of Ordained Ministry took a vote Wednesday and did not approve Tara "T.C." Morrow as a deacon.

"Morrow failed to receive the two-thirds of the vote needed to be approved," reported the UMConnection, noting that the BOOM stated it "did not consider sexual practice for any candidate and did not in the case of Morrow."

"Bishop Marcus Matthews called for United Methodists to be in a time of prayer following the clergy meeting. He called for prayers for Morrow, her family, for leaders of the Baltimore-Washington Conference, and for the unity of the Church as it continues to seek God's will."

UMC General Conference
Delegates pray before a plenary session at the United Methodist Church's 2016 General Conference in Portland, Oregon. |

The Baltimore-Washington Annual Conference is among a small number of UMC regional bodies that have decided to no longer consider sexual orientation or gender identity in their clergy candidacy process.

According to the UMC Book of Discipline rules on ordination, individuals in same-sex relationships cannot become 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 Book of 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."

The Rev. Charles Parker, chair of the Baltimore-Washington Annual Conference BOOM, told The Christian Post in an earlier interview that he did not believe his regional body's refusal to consider sexual orientation violated the Book of Discipline.

"We believe that our policy walks a narrow line of allowing us to do the right thing, while staying within the bounds of the Book of Discipline," said Parker.

"So those who believe that our Church needs to change its restrictive language on LGBTQ people, but who are still committed to obeying the Book of Discipline, should be free to vote their consciences."

At last month's General Conference, a resolution was passed allowing denominational leadership to create a committee that would investigate the validity of the Book of Discipline's language on LGBT issues.

Regarding the BOOM's rejection of her possible commissioning as a deacon, Morrow released a statement expressing gratitude to the regional body for their consideration.

"While I am saddened that the full clergy session did not affirm the BOOM's recommendation, I appreciate the BOOM's openness and transparency related to my candidacy," stated Morrow.

"I hope such openness may be an example as the Council of Bishops moves forward with a commission to study and possibly offer revision of the parts of the United Methodist Book of Discipline related to 'human sexuality.'"

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