Beyond resolutions, the U.S. annual conference season showed other indications of how attitudes among the country’s United Methodists are changing.
Louisiana Conference voters overwhelmingly approved the formation of an “LGBTQIA+ Ministries Team” to help local United Methodist churches minister to the LGBTQIA+ community.
Over 90% of Florida Conference clergy members voted to commission a slate of 24 clergy candidates as provisional members, three of whom are openly gay. Provisional membership is a crucial step toward ordination and full conference membership. The clergy session also approved 12 candidates for ordination.
This year’s approval came after the conference’s clergy session last year decided against approving an entire 16-person slate for advancement on the track to ordination because of the presence of openly gay candidates.
The conference’s Board of Ordained Ministry recommended the commissioning of all the candidates. All candidates must answer a serious of historic questions, including about whether the candidates adhere to “celibacy in singleness and faithfulness in marriage.” The Rev. Magrey deVega, the board’s chair, told the clergy session that the candidates all answered in the affirmative.
“The Board of Ordained Ministry fulfilled its evaluative responsibilities and found each candidate in keeping with what is required in The Book of Discipline,” said deVega, who also is senior pastor of Hyde Park United Methodist Church in Tampa.
The clergy session of the North Carolina Conference approved eight candidates for ordination, including a first-ever candidate in a same-gender civil marriage.
The Rev. Sangwoo Kim, the chair of the conference’s Board of Ordained Ministry, said in a statement that the board took seriously its charge to evaluate clergy candidates. That work includes interviewing them, reading their written work and engaging with the candidates’ local churches.
“The Board found these candidates highly qualified for full connection and ordination as clergy in the NC Annual Conference,” said Kim, who also serves as associate dean for vocational formation and senior director of the Methodist House of Studies at Duke Divinity School in Durham.
To learn more about this year’s meetings, read 2023 annual conference reports.
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