Boards reaffirm stand for LGBTQ clergy candidates

The New York and Pacific Northwest conference boards of ordained ministry are reaffirming their 2016 decisions not to consider issues of sexuality when evaluating candidates for ordained ministry.

These announcements come after the United Methodist Judicial Council ruled that boards of ordained ministry must adhere to the church’s position on homosexuality when considering candidates for ministry.

New York and Pacific Northwest were among seven conference boards of ordained ministry, conferences or clergy sessions that came out in support of LGBTQ ministry candidates at last year’s annual conference meetings. The other five have not responded to recent decisions of the denomination’s top court.

“It was difficult to sort out the confusion and misinformation that surrounded the Judicial Council rulings and their impact, and to hear the anxiety and fear generated by them,” said the Rev. Lara Bolger, chair of the Pacific Northwest conference board of ordained ministry.

“It was not difficult to stand by our statement of practice in light of what has happened since that time,” she said.

The Rev. James “K” Karpen said the New York board spent a lot of time discussing “the fallout” from the 2016 statement.

“I personally felt we had a choice between trying somehow to comply with the bigoted and narrowly restrictive clauses of the Book of Discipline, and following Jesus. For me that was not a hard choice,” said Karpen, who is on the New York board of ordained ministry and pastor of St. Paul and St. Andrew United Methodist Church in Manhattan.

“As a board of ordained ministry, I feel we have a very high standard of fitness for the ordained ministry, and have quite an elaborate and thorough process for ascertaining whether a candidate meets that standard. We examine all relevant information in each case, and take a long, prayerful time doing it. I am personally very proud of the job we do,” he said.

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