In response to the passage of RS-217 at the 2014 New England Annual Conference Session, the Board of Ordained Ministry of that Annual Conference discussed and approved the following statement of non-discrimination. It is now official policy, included in the Handbook for the District Committees on Ordained Ministry.
A. STATEMENT OF NON-DISCRIMINATION (as approved by Feb 2015 BOM)
The policy of NEUMC is to offer an equal openness and discernment to all those called to lay, licensed local pastor, associate member, and ordained ministry. To this end, we affirm for dCOM members and candidates education around personal and systemic forms of prejudice, such as the NEUMC Anti-Racism Training events. This is augmented by a rigorous reading of RS-217, which affirms God’s call to ministry for all persons regardless of race, ethnicity, gender, sexual orientation, marital status or age. The conference entrusts our District Committees on Ordained Ministry and Board of Ordained Ministry to discern in the Spirit with each candidate and member, with justice, fairness, and consistent standards.
At the 2014 session of the New England Annual Conference, the body passed the following resolution, which asserts confidence in our District Committees on Ordained Ministry and Board Of Ordained Ministry to evaluate candidates without bias:
RS-217 An Invitation
The New England Annual Conference of The United Methodist Church strives to be an inclusive conference that celebrates, develops, and affirms God-given gifts for lay and ordained ministry. We commend our District Committees on Ordained Ministry and Board of Ordained Ministry in their work of discerning wisely, fairly, and prayerfully the readiness and effectiveness of those seeking to be accepted as candidates, commissioned as provisional members, and ordained as deacon or elder.
Whereas, we oppose all forms of personal bias and discrimination, including institutionalized discrimination written into our Book of Discipline, as criteria in evaluating potential clergy members, even as we confess our complicity in systems of exclusion;
Therefore, be it resolved, that the New England Annual Conference affirms the following statement:
We believe God calls all persons to lay, and sometimes LLP, Associate Member and ordained ministry. We grieve instances of systemic discrimination, prejudice, and unjust practices that cloud the discernment of this call within The United Methodist Church. The New England Annual Conference extends our invitation to people who wish to explore if their call to ministry might be affirmed and/or lived out in the New England Annual Conference.
While we do not promise to accept such persons into candidacy or membership, we do promise to discern in the Spirit with justice, fairness, and consistent standards to the best of our ability, and we entrust our District Committees on Ordained Ministry and Board of Ordained Ministry to act accordingly.
Be it further resolved, that the New England Annual Conference encourages its churches, Board of Ordained Ministry, and/or District Committees on Ordained Ministry, upon request from a candidate/potential member, or an individual inquiring on their behalf, to extend a written invitation to individual ordination candidates or potential members, inviting them to apply for membership in the New England Annual Conference, in accordance with Disciplinary and Annual Conference requirements.
The Reconciling Committee of New England Annual Conference’s
Board of Church & Society is excited to sponsor
Be Encouraged: A Leadership Development Retreat
for GLBTQ inquirers & candidates for ordination
in The United Methodist Church
April 17-19, 2015
Camp Aldersgate, Rhode Island
This retreat is designed to connect GLBTQ-identified candidates with a set of peers grappling with similar issues, develop strategies for coping with and overcoming discriminatory ordination rules, provide encouragement from out clergy, and expand tools for effectively managing pastoral and personal identities in a homophobic context.
Participants from the New England Annual Conference and beyond are invited to gather together for support, resourcing, and acquiring skills for navigating the candidacy process as a person who identifies as GLBTQ, including:
Naming strategies for discussing gender identity and/or sexual orientation with District Committees on Ministry and Boards of Ordained Ministry
Describing methods for identifying and responding to potential biases that arise in their ministry contexts
Articulating positive contributions to ministry made possible by their identity as someone who is GLBTQ and called to ordained ministry in The UMC