United Methodist Lesbian Clergy Candidate Finally Rejected by Board of Ministry

A lesbian clergy candidate in the United Methodist Church was finally rejected for possible ordination by the denomination.

After a long and uncertain process, Mary Ann Barclay released a statement Tuesday confirming that the Board of Ordained Ministry rejected her candidacy.

"Today is painful but it is not the end. I still dare to hope," wrote Barclay, who was initially rejected by the Board without an interview reportedly due to her sexual orientation.

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"My first priority as a Christian is not ordination at all cost. Rather, it is living out my faith. With or without the Board's approval, my task remains the same."

Despite the public controversy over her sexual orientation and her being involved in a same-sex relationship, Barclay says she believes her rejection had to do with another issue.

"Today the board voted not to move me forward in my ordination process because they felt I failed to articulate my understanding of the 'Lordship of Christ for the world,' the particular role of ordination, and a failure to communicate my 'internal call'," wrote Barclay.

"My sexual orientation never came up in the interview. I can't help but wonder how their perception of my sexuality influenced their thinking."

Barclay was certified as a deacon candidate in the Alabama-West Florida Annual Conference in 2008. She then graduated with a Master of Divinity at the United Methodist-approved Austin Presbyterian Theological Seminary and worked with the Austin District Committee on Ordained Ministry.

According to the UMC Book of Discipline, "self-avowed practicing homosexuals" are banned from "being certified as candidates, ordained as ministers, or appointed to serve in The United Methodist Church."

Born Mary Ann Kaiser, Barclay took the last name of her partner in a wedding ceremony that currently lacks legal recognition by Texas, where she lives.

Last year, the Board of Ordained Ministry for the UMC the Southwest Texas Annual Conference refused to certify Barclay's clergy candidacy.

Barclay fought the decision, appealing to Bishop James E. Dorff of the UMC San Antonio Episcopal Area, who initially refused to issue a ruling on the matter.

Last October, the United Methodist Judicial Council, the highest court for the denomination, ordered Dorff to issue a ruling. Dorff agreed to let the candidacy continue.

In her statement released earlier this week, Barclay said that she would attempt to become a clergy candidate again.

"Their decision means that I will continue my journey for ordination, but, per normal procedure, will have to go back to my district committee, one that has had complaints filed against them for passing me the first time," wrote Barclay.

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