Group of LGBTQI Methodist clergy comes out, in defiance of church law

Group of LGBTQI Methodist clergy comes out, in defiance of church law

May 2, 2016 • Category: Home Page Featured, News, Photos


Dorothee Benz, 718-314-4432

Group of LGBTQI Methodist Clergy Comes Out,
in Defiance of Church Law

Fifteen members of the New York Conference sign letter, risking credentials

May 2, 2016, New York – In an unprecedented challenge to the United Methodist Church’s discriminatory policies excluding “self-avowed practicing homosexuals” from ministry, 15 UMC clergy and clergy candidates in the New York Annual Conference today released an open letter “to the people of the United Methodist Church” declaring, “We are lesbian, gay, bisexual, and queer […]

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Board of Ministry Votes Equal Consideration for LGBTQI Candidates

A New Day In the New York Conference!

“The gift of an inclusive community is a gift of God to be embraced and celebrated... The New York Annual Conference declares itself to be the place where LGBTQ persons can find safe space, an arena for the expression of and celebration of their individual gifts in service and ministry, enjoy the blessings of family and marriage, and participate fully, openly, and equally in the full life of the church.”

From Our Vision of a Beloved and Just Community,
Adopted by the New York Annual Conference, June 2014.
Formally endorsed by the Board of Ordained Ministry
of the New York Annual Conference on Saturday, February 20, 2016.

“All persons who seek to glorify God in word and deed and live under the Lordship of Jesus Christ are invited to discern and explore their call toward ordination or licensing in the New York Annual Conference.  Sexual orientation and gender identity are not and will not be considered in the evaluation of candidates by the Board of Ordained Ministry...  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.”

The Rev. Dr. William B. Pfohl, BOOM Chair, NYAC, March 1, 2016

Methodists in New Directions (MIND), a New York Annual Conference organization working for full inclusion of LGBTQI people in the United Methodist Church, commended their local Board of Ordained Ministry this week for taking the historic action on February 20 of voting as a body to welcome LGBTQI candidates into the ordination process without fear of discrimination based on sexual orientation or gender identity/expression.

Toward this end, the Board of Ministry of the New York Annual Conference:

  • Declared that “LGBTQI candidates will be given equal consideration and protection in the candidacy process.”
  • Informed the District Committees on Ordained Ministry who are amendable to the Board of Ministry of these affirmations and instructed them to abide by these guidelines.

MIND responded to the action, saying “It is exciting and deeply gratifying to know that the members of the Board of Ordained Ministry of the New York Conference heard these voices and responded graciously, prophetically, and bravely. MIND commends the NYAC Board of Ordained Ministry and its leaders for their vision and boldness. The action they have taken encourages us all to continue the witness, the dialogue, and the prophetic work that will one day bring about a transformation in the United Methodist Church.”

The full text of the Board of Ordained Ministry announcement is here.

“We are grateful to The New York Annual Conference Board of Ordained Ministry for taking this historic, momentous step to ensure equal treatment for LGBTQ candidates for ministry. I know I speak for many LGBTQI United Methodist pastors who are happy to know that those who come after us will not have to suffer in the silence of the church imposed closet nor will they have to redact the one they love from their autobiographical narratives.”

Rev. Sara Thompson Tweedy
Chairperson, Methodists In New Directions


"Finally, the New York Conference Board of Ordained Ministry will assess candidates on the primary basis of their gifts and graces for the ministry of Jesus Christ instead of making heterosexuality its primary, gate-keeping criteria. This decision by the board represents an embrace of Christian gospel values of love and justice over discriminatory practices and prejudice too prevalent elsewhere in our society that can foster bigotry and violence.”

Traci C. West
James W. Pearsall Professor of Christian Ethics and African American Studies
Drew Theological School


“I applaud the Board of Ordained Ministry for taking this prophetic step. The church is now truly welcoming all God's beloved children and no longer letting the message be to our LGBTQI brothers and sisters that their relationships aren’t valid, that their call to minister is not of God, and that they cannot be ordained. It's spiritually suffocating to live in the closet. I am thankful that I can now continue to follow God in faith as my full authentic self in the ordination process without having to be in the closet. This is a day of new beginnings.”

Bruce Lamb
Candidate for ordained ministry in the New York Annual Conference


"God has been using LGBTQI persons to bless the Church’s ministry, perhaps for longer than we can imagine. The New York Annual Conference Board of Ordained Ministry has opened the closet door for the work of God to flourish with honor. No more will, we, LGBTQI persons have to truncate our testimony, insult our relationships through occlusion, deprive ourselves of the fullness of our humanity in the presence of the people we serve, and be false in our witness. In this decision we have the beginnings of liberation. What a relief to know that this God-blessed constituency can candidate for ministry on equal, standard terms. Thank you NYAC Board of Ordained Ministry. May the wisdom of your decision be emulated within the UMC. Today, I am joyful and profoundly thankful."

Althea Spencer Miller
Asst. Prof. of New Testament Studies, Drew Theological School
Steering Committee Member, Methodists in New Directions

The full text of the 2014 resolution of the New York Annual Conference:

 Our Vision of a Beloved and Just Community:

Whereas, despite institutionalized discrimination in the United Methodist Church against LGBTQ persons and despite punitive actions and threats of further punitive actions by individuals and groups opposed to the full rights of LGBTQ persons in the United Methodist Church, LGBTQ people are finding welcoming communities in the United Methodist Church and in the New York Annual Conference; they are finding clergy, laity and congregations embracing them joyfully as members of the body of Christ, as United Methodists in good standing, and as gifted children of God entitled equally to all the ministries, ceremonies and sacraments of the church; and

Whereas, this welcoming spirit represents the future of the United Methodist Church and brings to life our conference’s decades-long commitment to inclusive ministry; and

Whereas, our ministry as an annual conference is set in a global context where, despite recent dramatic gains in LGBTQ rights in the United States, in many places LGBTQ persons face horrifying persecution, often encouraged by and sanctioned by Christian leaders from the U.S. LGBTQ persons face wide ranging social and legal discrimination. LGBTQ youth are at great risk for bullying, violence, homelessness, family ostracism, sexual abuse, suicide, and poverty. These dimensions of oppression disproportionately affect LGBTQ people of color, who are at the intersection of racial prejudice and prejudice against LGBTQ people; and

Whereas, the grave and continuing harm done to LGBTQ persons is an injustice which the church whose mission is to stand with “the least of these” must actively and passionately oppose; and

Whereas, the gift of an inclusive community is a gift of God to be embraced and celebrated; therefore

Be it resolved, that the New York Annual Conference declares itself to be the place where LGBTQ persons can find safe space, an arena for the expression of and celebration of their individual gifts in service and ministry, enjoy the blessings of family and marriage, and participate fully, openly, and equally in the full life of the church.

Scott Summerville

Can You Imagine Another Four Years Of Discrimination?

MIND has to be at General Conference in Portland, Oregon from May 10 through 20th when the United Methodist Church delegates gather to write the rules that will govern the church for the next four years. MIND is going so that we can hold the church accountable for discriminatory policies and hopefully prevent the codification of those policies for another four years.

Imagine what another four years will do to transgender youth struggling to find their place in the world and in the church…

Imagine the strain and difficulties placed upon LGBTQ clergy who are forced into a closet because the church does not affirm their committed relationship and is only concerned if two people are “practicing”…

Imagine another four years of ministerial candidates sitting before District Committees on Ministries and Boards of Ordained Ministries wishing they could can be honest about who they are and their call to serve the church…

Imagine another four years of irreparable harm perpetuated against sincerely committed gay and lesbian couples who are turned away from the rite of marriage in the very church that they attend and help to sustain…

Now imagine an inclusive United Methodist Church.

In order to send people to Portland, MIND needs your help. Sending an activist to General Conference for 10 days will cost approximately $1,000 per person. MIND would like to send a delegation of at least ten people. As of today, we have one person paid for! Nine more to go—and we can do this!

Here are ways you can help!

  1. If you can make a donation to MIND to fund activists to attend General Conference please give via this button:

Go to the E-Giving Online Transaction System

  • Please note in description: “MIND GC2016”
  1.  Mail your donation to Asbury United Methodist Church, 167 Scarsdale Rd., Tuckahoe, NY, 10707. Attn: “MIND GC2016”
  2. Organize a fund drive in your congregation to sponsor someone to go to Portland in May.
  3. If you are planning to attend General Conference for any reason and want to work with MIND on the ground, let us know that you are attending.
  4. Share news from MIND about General Conference on social media!
  5. Pray for our MIND activists and for change within the church.
  6. Stay tuned!  We will have much more news in the coming months.

Annual Conference 2015 recap

Annual Conference 2015 Recap 

There are many reasons for MIND to do a victory lap at the conclusion of the 216th Session of the New York Annual Conference. We passed key legislation committing our conference to be “a place of safety, equality, and welcome for LGBTQI lay persons, clergy, candidates for ministry and their families.” Other legislative efforts were successful too, including our petition to General Conference to amend Paragraph 161.F of the Book of Discipline of the United Methodist Church. This petition removes all language which would exclude LGB persons from ministry in or with the church.Rev. Dr. Spencer Miller

Revered Dr. Althea Spencer Miller gave an outstanding address to a packed room at MIND’s annual luncheon. She reminded us of the many ways that injustice in the struggle of others must not be allowed to go unchecked. She cautioned us that “any one form of social oppression cannot be overcome in isolation from other forms of oppression.” Her words remind us all that we must not only be committed to LGBTQI justice, but for all those who are marginalized and oppressed.

IMG_7004With all of the good that came out of conference, however, MIND is not running that victory lap.

Get the full story, including much more on Annual Conference petitions, and how some of the worst hate speech we've seen in years was handled, at our full Annual Conference 2015 page here.

Who We Are

MIND is a grassroots organization of United Methodists working to end our denomination’s doctrinal prejudice and institutional discrimination against lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people and committed to living more fully into God’s radical Welcome right now and right here. More about us >>

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MIND is a membership organization. Becoming a MIND member is one way that every one of us can witness to God’s Welcome, a way we let people know—our bishop, our conference leadership, other churches and most of all LGBT people who are wondering whether they can find a church home through our doors—that God welcomes everyone and so should we.  Join us today >>

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