United Methodist Church removes, reinstates, then rejects openly gay candidate for ordination

After an eight year process, openly lesbian Mary Ann Barclay was not moved forward in the ordination process, as the Board of Ordained Ministry (BOM) rejected her candidacy to become a minister in the United Methodist Church (UMC).

In late 2013, Mary Ann was preemptively removed from the process because she married Annanda, her girlfriend who she met while studying in seminary. Officially, the UMC does not allow people who are LGBT and not celibate to serve as clergy. However, in December, Mary Ann was reinstated in the process and allowed to proceed with examination and an interview with the BOM. She is based in the Southwest Texas Annual Conference.

The Board believed that Mary Ann "failed to articulatemy understanding of the 'Lordship of Christ for the world,' the particular role of ordination, and a failure to communicate my 'internal call,'" she said in a statement released through the LGBT-affirming, faith-based group Reconciling Ministries Network. Mary Ann continued:

Marginalized people set up these sorts of psychological self-protections because we know all too well that dreaming can hurt. When we dare to hope in the church and its people, to trust them with our bruised hearts and tired bodies, we put ourselves at risk yet again of disappointment, of betrayal, of harm. Today I hoped in my Board of Ordained Ministry, and in my church, by trusting in them enough to share the call God has placed on my life. Their vote not to recommend me for ministry today makes me sad, hurt, and angry. I am sad because my journey is stalled and because my denomination is not its true self today. I am hurt by the prejudice we have deemed polity. And I am angry because I know the sadness and hurt I carry is a familiar feeling for so many other LGBTQ folks in The UMC who dare to keep dreaming. I join other rejected candidates, the ones who feel no choice but to leave, the clergy forced to live in the closet, the members who struggle with their place in their own denomination, and the queer clergy who have faced trials or have been defrocked solely because of who they are. I am angry that we continue to grow in number.

. . . My first priority as a Christian is not ordination at all cost. Rather, it is living out my faith. With or without the Board’s approval, my task remains the same. Even when our denomination becomes fully inclusive of its LGBTQ members, it will not be the Kindom. There is more conversation, more conflict, more discrimination, and we are all called to the center of that. We are all called to be a part of the messy, painful, challenging work of sanctification, that work that makes our church and our collective selves more representative of the radical world of Table where all feast, and of Baptism, where all are claimed by the waters. This is our work as Christian people.

Today is painful but it is not the end.  I still dare to hope.

. . . May we keep knocking, persistently and daringly, on the doors of the church we love until they open in the name of the ones who have had doors slammed in their faces, in the name of the ones who have felt no choice but to leave, and most importantly, in the name of the Divine voice who claims us all.

In addition to the statement, Mary Ann also shared these words of wisdom on Twitter:

Like a number of denominations, the UMC is engaged in ongoing internal conversations about the LGBT community. Recently, Methodist Bishop Martin McLee dropped a complaint brought against Rev. Sara Thompson Tweedy for being openly gay. In Seattle, Rev. Dr. Monica Cosaro and her church Rainier Beach United Methodist Church adamantly stand with Geoff McGrath, a Scoutmaster who the Boy Scouts of America are working to oust because he is gay. Still, Mary Ann's rejection from ordination is a reminder that efforts towards full inclusion are far from over.

You can read Mary Ann's full statement here.