(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.
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.”