News Revelations

Methodist lesbian voted down as deacon

Clergy members of the Baltimore-Washington Annual Conference, meeting June 1, 2016 in an executive session, did not approve Tara “T.C.” Morrow for commissioning as a deacon in the United Methodist Church. Photo by Steven D. Martin

(RNS) A married lesbian who had hoped to become a deacon in the United Methodist Church was voted down by clergy of the church’s Baltimore-Washington Conference.

Tara “T.C.” Morrow did not receive the two-thirds vote needed for approval, reported the UMConnection, the conference’s newspaper. The conference’s Board of Ordained Ministry had recommended that Morrow be commissioned as a provisional deacon. Deacons in the United Methodist Church are ordained clergy.

The Wednesday (June 1) decision about Morrow, a staffer of the National Religious Campaign Against Torture, came within weeks of the denomination’s quadrennial General Conference. At that meeting in Portland, Ore., delegates decided to postpone debate about changing stances on human sexuality until a commission can discuss them.


RELATED STORY: Methodists postpone debate of gay issues that could split denomination 


The church’s Book of Discipline states that homosexuality is “incompatible with Christian teaching” and that “self-avowed practicing homosexuals” are not permitted to be ordained.

The Baltimore-Washington Area Reconciling United Methodists said the move to not approve a candidate who was recommended by the ministry board was a rare one.

“Our United Methodist connection suffers when sisters and brothers in Christ have had to take their gifts to other denominations in order to serve openly in pastoral ministry or when they have lived under ‘don’t ask, don’t tell,’” said Daniel Fisher, chair of the pro-gay group.

UMConnection reported that Morrow, a member of Washington’s Foundry United Methodist Church, said in a statement that she was “saddened” by the clergy vote but hoped the openness of the board recommendation might be an example for the pending churchwide commission.

“As we know well, discussions of how to work with LGBTQ clergy and clergy candidates are not abstract discussions,” she said. “We are talking about real lives, real people who are called by God to leadership in the church.”

Revelations-Series-Banner-770x150

About the author

Adelle M. Banks

Adelle M. Banks, production editor and a national reporter, joined RNS in 1995. An award-winning journalist, she previously was the religion reporter at the Orlando Sentinel and a reporter at The Providence Journal and newspapers in the upstate New York communities of Syracuse and Binghamton.

68 Comments

Click here to post a comment

  • No, the BOD doesn’t say homosexuality per se is incompatible, but rather homosexual practice.

  • “A married lesbian who had hoped to become a deacon in the United Methodist Church was voted down by clergy of the church’s Baltimore-Washington Conference.”
    Praise Jesus. Lord, keep working with this assembly and keep them strong for You!
    1 Timothy 3:12 – New International Version
    A deacon must be faithful to his wife and must manage his children and his household well.

  • I’m surprised I haven’t yet died laughing every time someone says, “the Word of God (or the Bible) is very clear blah, blah, blah.”

  • The provision of the cross includes deliverance from lesbianism. But she’s still not qualified for the office of deacon.
    Methodism has a serious inherent problem in that it doesn’t hold to the Reformation’s Sola Scriptura, but to Wesley’s trilateral basis of authority.

  • People like to say, “The Word of God is very clear on this subject” when they want to avoid criticism over their selective (and usually spotty) interpretations of scripture. They like to pretend that there are not over 500 different Christian sects. All due to the fact that the “Word of God” is never as clear on any subject as they would claim it to be. Nor is there any reason to believe your church or any other is the “true” one. Everyone claims theirs is. Nobody can give a compelling reason why.

    ” If anyone has a problem with that they’ll need to ask God about it.”

    Bu11$h1t. That is what people say when they are too spineless to stand by their own prejudices. Invoke God and claim it is above criticism (and even worthy of respect). Its nonsense. It your interpretation of “the Word of God” that people have a problem with. You chose to claim the scripture holds for that position. Many others who believe do not share such a view or make such ridiculous claims of an unambiguous position. You may call such people, “not real Christians” but that only tells me about your own arrogant views towards believers in the same faith as yourself.

  • Its about your take on the Bible. If her church choose to expel her, it reflects more on the beliefs of the church than her. There is nothing moral about Christian anti-gay bigotry. It is why you guys say “sin” when referring to gays as opposed to immorality. Sin is subjective and sectarian in nature. Morality is objective and requires some form of objective analysis.

  • So what other practices are per se incompatible with the BOD?

    How do we know it is just singling out gays in a bigoted fashion?

  • Ah the humanist. Man is the measure of all things.
    It is Christ’s Church and sin is defined by God alone, making it objective, not subjective and certainly not sectarian.
    No, we use the word ‘sin’ because that is the word the Bible uses (some 1175 times). The word ‘moral’ or ‘morality’ is never used in the Scriptures.

  • As I said before, the whole “they are not real Christians” spiel is more of a sign of arrogance on your part than anything which requires being taken seriously. You naturally think your take on Christianity is the only one. But reality tells me otherwise.

    I am not displaying prejudice here. I am showing a very rational and objective reason why your take on religious beliefs is not worthy of the respect and acceptance you seek. I am just simply puncturing the cloud of dishonest, cowardly, nonsense which people use religion to excuse their personal prejudices.

    You sound like every other bigot who hides behind religion. Someone who looks for elaborate excuses to treat others maliciously but are too afraid to own up to it as their personal beliefs. It is not an indictment of God, Scripture or Jesus. Plenty of people and churches who profess to follow Jesus Christ as their personal savior do not share your interpretations or think well of the excuses you are giving to hate thy neighbor.

  • “The word ‘moral’ or ‘morality’ is never used in the Scriptures.”

    Thank you for demonstrating why your version of Christianity has nothing to say about morals or morality despite claims of such things. You also demonstrate that “sin” is defined by arbitrary and unquestioned authority and has nothing to do with what is right or proper. Since what constitutes sin and the level of intensity of it changes from sect to sect or individual it is as subjective as it comes. Of course talking about sin in the general sense ignores the most dishonest part of your position. Out of all the sins, only one is deemed to be singled out for ejection from a church or as cause for treating one inhumanely.

    So we can cut the BS. Instead of talking about “sins” you can discuss the only one you seem to be concerned with. Of course the problem with that is that Jesus had absolutely nothing to say on the subject.

  • So answer my question to nutstuyu, what other practices are per se incompatible with the BOD?

    If you wanted to prove Ben was wrong, you should have come up with something to that effect. Instead you just flung insults. From what I get from a lot of anti-gay Christian bigots is that you guys read Scripture, but only selectively and with very spurious justification for your position.

  • You have, but lack the spine to own up to it. Instead you state God himself hates gays. You rely on a self serving view of scripture and wrap yourself in the fiction that it is the sole interpretation possible.

    As someone who claims to have marched for civil rights back in the day, you would probably have remembered how southern baptists and the like said it was god’s will that races be separate. One would have hoped you had the clarity of thought to recognize how people use religion to justify discrimination. But you don’t. Instead you chose to join the other side. Of the bigots. What a shame.

    Still doesn’t answer the question. What other sins get the same treatment under the BOD?

  • I am not the one saying a certain class of people are unworthy of being treated like people. That is all you. So take your “your the real bigot” and shove it.

    You can’t handle frank criticism of your position. I am not discriminating against you. You are free to tell everyone your position. The problem is you are so self righteous and arrogant that you do not expect it to be called out. As is my right as well.

  • Cool it, Conrad. The Bible is not the Word of God. The Bible tells us that Christ Jesus is the Word of God. I believe Christ Jesus is telling us something other than what thee is telling us. If we only had ears to hear HIM!
    Btw, I am an evangelical too.
    Blessings.

  • “You may not believe in Holy Scripture, but that doesn’t give you any right to diss those who do.”

    How interesting! . . . Many Christian voters expected the right to deny civil marriage to gay couples. Many Christian business owners demand the right to refuse service to gays, and many Christians employed in government marriage license bureaus demand the right to refuse marriage licenses to gay couples. And now the latest Christian campaign is setting up transgender people for assault by inventing the phony need to protect women and children in public bathrooms. But then you have the audacity to insist that Spuddie does NOT have the right to diss people who believe in so-called holy scripture! . . . i.e., you expect a right to be immune from criticism!

    Thanks for confirming one of the key areas of Christian hypocrisy.

  • “Christ”? Oh – you mean that Jewish guy who died 2100 years ago (after his predictions of an imminent coming of the kingdom failed), and who hated the goyim, calling them dogs and swine. That guy. And then some nut named Paul started a cult about the dead Jewish guy, and babbled on about how the dead Jewish guy was going to be back immediately, and then the dead would rise to meet the dead Jewish guy, and than Paul and his Pals would blast off to the clouds to meet him. And here we are 2100 years later. Hilarious.
    I do wish that the LGBT community would come to its senses, recognize christianity for what it is, and wash their hands of it.

  • People did ask God about it when they prayed for him to turn the Supreme Court in favor of gay marriage and he said “yes.” Game, set, match.

  • I have a sincere belief in Santa Claus. Granted, he never brings toys to my house, or the houses of anyone I know, even though the book says he will and I beg and plead every year for him to bring me toys. And there’s no evidence at all whatsoever that he actually exists, or affects humankind. But even though he doesn’t do anything he’s supposed to and ignores my pleas for toys, you can’t prove he doesn’t exist. And it’s mean when you tell me that I’m crazy for believing in him.

  • Seems to me there’s a simple answer – all the crazed bible-thumpers could just pray for the magic god – actually, christians have three gods (daddy god, son god, and the Holy Smoke!) to come down here and set us all straight (heh heh). Weird how the magic gods don’t seem to actually do anything or have any powers.

  • Well that is certainly your take on what Jesus said with a lot of interpolation and editorializing. But sanctifying a religious marriage between man and woman is a far cry from your wild claim that all other forms of marriage are forbidden.

    You filled in gaps and made wild assumptions with meaning to fit your prejudices. To say scripture is clear as you claimed is a flat out lie. Plus polygamy was alive and well in Jesus’s time and even among early Christians for centuries. So the whole screed that Jesus said marriage was one hetero couple is just fiction.

  • So your imaginary sky god is going to roast my gay brother in sky god hell, even though my brother works 50+ hours a week for crappy pay taking care of profoundly disabled teens and young adults and then does charity work as well? And his husband is equally charitable? What an odious sky god.
    Oh – wait – we can’t say “disabled” any more. Because I’ve been reading all sorts of stuff from christians about how the magic sky god does his “knitting in the womb,” and if he knits you a penis, you’re male, no matter what. So when magic sky god knits you up a defective (damn! there’s that word again) heart valve, you just gotta live with it (I assume that christians never seek surgery for children with “counterintuitively gifted” heart valves, cleft palates, etc., etc.)
    christians sure are a loathsome bunch. I’m glad their beliefs are superstitious codswallop.

  • What you miss is that Jesus wants to treat them like people and bring them into His family.

    “It’s not about people changing their sexuality; It’s about lost people becoming sons and daughters.” – Ty Wyss

  • “What you miss is that Jesus wants to treat them like people and bring them into His family.”

    Yet you want to specifically exclude certain people from the “family” of a given church. To treat them as outcasts. So again, you are the real bigot here.

  • Your words: “Until she repents. Restoration is the goal and provision has been made in the cross of calvary and the shed blood of Jesus Christ.”

    She repents for being gay? Give me a break.

    “Neither did I say anything about “other sins” getting the same treatment under the BOD?”

    Which is why the emphasis on the general notion of sin when dealing with this subject is such a nonsense point of discussion. You are clearly demonstrating how this is really about attacking gays and not about any other ideas or sins.

    The problem is you are so used to a very lazy form of expressing your religious beliefs. You are too arrogant to admit your take on scripture is not the only one there and that Christians who disagree with you are still Christian. So you obnoxiously claim your view is the Word of God and pretend disagreement is just either ignorance or hatred of Christianity.

  • You seem to have missed it, so I’ll repeat; “”What you miss is that Jesus wants to treat them like people and bring them into His family.” Now try to assimilate that. Breathe slowly……

  • But YOU do not. Unless you want to claim your prior postings about justifying maltreatment of gays was just a giggle. Or extended sarcasm.

  • So-called charity does not make up for a crime that God calls abominable (disgusting). And what basis does an atheist have for claims of morality and charity? Stop leaching of the Christian worldview.

  • Have seen white noise exhibit more signs of intelligence.
    Of course the Scriptures aren’t clear to a hater of God and a despiser of good.

    28 And even as they did not like to retain God in their knowledge, God gave them over to a debased mind, to do those things which are not fitting;
    29 being filled with all unrighteousness, sexual immorality, wickedness, covetousness, maliciousness; full of envy, murder, strife, deceit, evil-mindedness; they are whisperers,
    30 backbiters, haters of God, violent, proud, boasters, inventors of evil things, disobedient to parents,
    31 undiscerning, untrustworthy, unloving, unforgiving, unmerciful;
    32 who, knowing the righteous judgment of God, that those who practice such things are deserving of death, not only do the same but also approve of those who practice them. (Rom 1:28-32 NKJ)

  • ” And what basis does an atheist have for claims of morality and charity?”

    Atheists are far more likely to base morality on reason and evidence in examining how a given behavior affects other people. If a certain behavior harms other people (outside of legitimate self-defense), it is immoral, otherwise it is moral. Gay people having sexual relations is completely moral as it causes no harm to anyone, regardless of what you believe your filthy god said . . . a god who was created in the image of the people who invented him and who was then carefully groomed and nurtured by like-minded worshipers over many centuries.

  • Whatever. Keep just making silly comments in the margins and avoiding addressing an issue directly. I don’t give a damn anymore.

  • Did you see the topic you were commenting on? I guess not. You just felt the need to spout off for its own sake then.

  • You had to write several paragraphs of “explication” to shoehorn your last scripture dump to fit the point you were claiming it allegedly stated. Of course being the arrogant and lazy person you are, you just claim your interpretation of scripture is the only one. All other versions and readings really mean you just hate God and the Bible. I am sure it makes you feel better about your dishonest and ridiculously elaborate interpretations of the Bible. But it is far from an accurate one. Plenty of Bible believing Christians do not use scripture to justify their bigotry in the way you do.

    Of course your passage would make far more sense if you included more of the original, WHERE IT DISCUSSED IDOLATRY

    20 For his invisible attributes, namely, his eternal power and divine nature, have been clearly perceived, ever since the creation of the world,[g] in the things that have been made. So they are without excuse. 21 For although they knew God, they did not honor him as God or give thanks to him, but they became futile in their thinking, and their foolish hearts were darkened. 22 Claiming to be wise, they became fools, 23 and exchanged the glory of the immortal God for images resembling mortal man and birds and animals and creeping things.

  • “When they have gone through what the blacks did, then we can talk. Homosexuality is a sin”

    “When their “sacred boundaries” are sending them to Hell”

    “Homosexuality harms a lot of people – especially the participants. It keeps them separate from God, and if they don’t repent – for life”

    These are YOUR words.
    https://disqus dot com/home/discussion/religionnews/why_civil_rights_and_lgbt_equality_are_joined_at_the_hip/#comment-2708525268

    You lie so baldly and have the nerve of accusing me of the same. GFYS and the horse you rode in on.

  • I’m sorry for you. You don’t even know the difference between love and hate. God bless you.

  • Ah – the quintessence of the truly hateful christian. Nay, the apotheosis of christian hatred. I’ll tell my brother that the next time he washes pots at the homeless shelter, his efforts are only “so-called” charity according to christians, and that no matter much lovingkindness he shows towards his fellow man, the evil christian sky fairy is still going to roast him in sky fairy hell. And then we’ll both laugh. A lot.

    And homosexuality is a CRIME? I know that christians are a scurrilous bunch, but you actually want the LGBT community – including my brother – to be JAILED? Wow! How deep does the depravity of christian hatred go??

    And of course your book calls all sorts of things abominations and contains all sorts of scurrilous orders. Tell me – if my daughter isn’t a virgin on her wedding night, am I still supposed to deliver her to the village elders to be stoned?

    christians all say their god answers every prayer. You don’t believe me? Check out Frank Graham’s FB page and Twitter posts from last November. It’s easy to find. I seem to recall that lots of christians girded their loins to pray nonstop for their god to turn the Supreme Court against gay marriage. They lost. Yet they continue to spit in the face of what their god has clearly blessed.

    Some of those impish followers of Frank said the christian sky god should burn down the White House with Obama and his family in it. You just gotta admire that loving christian attitude. What a loathsome bunch they are.

  • Except that Scripture IS clear. The Bible (and the Methodist Book of Discipline, by the way) genuinely points in only one direction on this issue. There’s no way to duck it.

    The only question is whether Christians (not you non-Christians, but actual Christians) will publicly agree or publically disagree with their own
    Bibles.

    Apparently there’s still some Christian clergy in the Baltimore-Washington area who surprisingly insist on “agree”, rather than “disagree.”

  • I feel your pain dude. Having no Santa Claus can be stressful.
    But if you are dealing in atheism, you are NOT dealing in reality, no matter how much caterwauling you do about Santa Claus.

  • In other words, you’re saying you’re going to wait till the Second Coming (when Jesus actually does “come down here and set us all straight”, to borrow your phrase) and then you’ll try to change your mind and get out of atheism.

    Well, okay. Good luck with that. Sure hope you make it.

  • Everybody’s an “evangelical” these days, it seems.
    Anyway, Jesus says the Bible is the word of God In John 10:35. Also maybe check out Psalm 119.

  • “Reason” and “evidence” are meaningless in an atheist world consisting of nothing but time, matter, energy and chance.
    “The fool hath said in his heart, There is no God. They are corrupt, they have done abominable works, there is none that doeth good. (Psa 14:1 KJV)
    What a profound statement that is.

  • Yes, God turns rebels over to their sins. That is the present and terrible manifestation of His wrath. You desired the liberty to indulge in the sin of Sodom and it was granted you. You have revealed for all to see your love of sin and hatred of God. And that on the way to the Judgment! Guilty as charged!

  • It really is pathetic how so many people desperately needing a source of authority and validation cling tenaciously to a Book of Ignorant Balderdash that’s Largely Egregious.

  • You are extremely confused. You should have said:

    “Reason and evidence are meaningless in a Christian world consisting of nothing but myths, fantasies, delusions, fallacies, fiction, fraud, and superstition.”

  • Confused are we? We still understand male and female and the proper and natural purpose and use of sex. You all cannot even understand what every animal knows.
    Materialism provides no basis for reason or meaning. You spit out words you do not understand like a parrot. But then your worldview cannot distinguish a parrot from a man from a rock.
    My I suggest heartfelt repentance?

  • Nice try, floydlee. Only problem is that if John 10:35 is read in context it is clear that Jesus is talking about the Spirit, not the written word. As for Psalm 119, it is written from an Old Testament point of view; it is beautiful and it is true, but it is incomplete. “Evangelical”? Yes, the good news is that Christ can and does take away our sin.

  • Except it wasn’t clear. You just wanted to shoehorn your views into the subject. Its amazing what kinds of excuses, interpolations, leaps of logic and rhetorical contortions you have to go through in order to disavow the letter and spirit of very basic instructions by Jesus to be good to each other.

    You want to claim that God is on your side because you lack the intestinal fortitude to deal with criticism for your hateful, useless and harmful views. It speaks more of your own arrogance, thin skin and bigotry than it does about the text.

  • This might interest you —

    The Kingdom of God is not in “word” (scripture verse), but “power” (the Spirit working in all of us especially those that believe)………..it’s not food and drink but “righteousness” (good works and deeds) and peace and joy in the Holy Spirit…….1 Cor 4:20 plus Rom 14:17

  • ” …but it is incomplete. ”

    That’s not the only thing that’s incomplete —

    1. …our knowledge is partial and incomplete
    2. …we see things imperfectly…
    3. …All that I know is partial and incomplete…
    (1 Corinthians 13:9,12)

  • ” I’m surprised I haven’t yet died laughing every time someone says, “the Word of God (or the Bible) is very clear… ”

    1. …our knowledge is partial and incomplete
    2. …we see things imperfectly…
    3. …All that I know is partial and incomplete…
    (1 Corinthians 13:9,12)

  • If someone is living a life of unrepentant sin they certainally have not been called by God to lead the church.

  • We learned the Wesleyan Quadrilateral in confirmation class. As in four. You must be confusing Methodists with some other prima scriptura approach, one that doesn’t include scripture, tradition, reason and experience.

  • “Our United Methodist connection suffers when sisters and brothers in Christ have had to take their gifts to other denominations in order to serve openly in pastoral ministry or when they have lived under ‘don’t ask, don’t tell,’” said Daniel Fisher, chair of the pro-gay group.

    This is quite an interesting worldview. I’m wondering if the Presbyterians are part of the other denominations.

  • And of course, if the Court had ruled AGAINST gay marriage, the streets would have been filled with nasty christians praising the dead Jewish guy (why do christians worship a dead man who HATED the goyim (who do you think the “dogs” and “swine” were?)) and yammering on about how christian sky-fairy had granted their prayers.
    But when christian sky-fairy doesn’t do what nasty christians want, the answer from evil christians is NEVER “okay, we get it – our prayer was denied and we were wrong.” Oh no – instead, they start with their hilarious excuses: “Uh . . . he works in mysterious ways . . . he uses evil for good . . . he let’s reprobates be reprobates and he’s going to roast them to a crisp in his fiery furnace.” And my favorite, because it gets kooky christians out of every jam: “We’re such an evil country that christian sky fairy god doesn’t hear our prayers anymore.” What gibberish.
    By the way, next time, before spouting the usual evil christian nonsense about “the sin of Sodom,” why don’t you see what the Bible itself says? Here ya’ go: “Behold, this was the guilt of your sister Sodom: she and her daughters had arrogance, abundant food and careless ease, but she did not help the poor and needy.” Ezekiel 16.49.
    Weird how nasty christians lie about what their own book says.

  • I know all about Ezekiel 16:49. The NEXT verse says “”Thus they were haughty and committed abominations before Me. Therefore I removed them when I saw it. (Eze 16:50 NAS) The word “abominations” is “toebah” and is used of homosexual acts in addition to a few other crimes. If you read Romans 1 beginning with verse 18 you will find that the journey into the depths of depravity begins with a refusal to honor God and give Him thanks. Verse 49 of Ezekiel 16 refers to the beginning of Sodom descent to depravity, not its end.

  • Are you judging her to be unrepentant? How could her inherent nature be a sin? Could you be wrong about what constitutes sin? Could all of christianity be wrong about the bible verses which seem to condemn homosexuality, but which may well have been addressing a critical issue of the bible’s own time, without intending to condemn private homosexual relationships?

ADVERTISEMENTs