In April of 2017 the Judicial Council was asked to rule in response to the non-compliance Annual Conferences with the Book of Discipline's qualifications for ministry in evaluating candidates. The ruling mandates that when a Board of Ordained Ministry examines applicants as to their fitness for the ordained ministry, "The Board's examination must include all paragraphs relevant to election of pastoral ministry, including those provisions set forth in paragraphs that deal with issues of race, gender, sexuality, integrity, indebtedness, etc. ¶¶ 304.2, 305, 306, 310. Candidates for licensed or ordained ministry in the United Methodist Church should be treated fairly and denial of entry must be based upon the evidence received from the results of the full examination."
Despite the Judicial Council's clear directive, the Baltimore-Washington Annual Conference has released a statement that states, in part, "We will not consider or evaluate sexual orientation or gender identity nor see them to be sufficient reasons to deny a candidate's ability to live up to our United Methodist standards. We will utilize our denomination's expectation of faithfulness in marriage and celibacy in singleness within our examination and expect not only high moral standards but also a strong sense of self-awareness about one's relational life."
The continuing and willful defiance by some Annual Conferences who do not support the official position of the church on issues of sexuality is creating a deep divide within our denomination. The covenantal nature of our church has been damaged and may very well be irreparable.