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An open letter to The United Methodist Church

Posted: May 23 2016 at 12:00 AM

The Board of Ordained Ministry of the Northern Illinois Conference at its meeting on Thursday, May 19, 2016, unanimously voted that “It’s time” to make explicit and public a policy of our board. The policy states:

“We publicly affirm that lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer, questioning, intersex, and straight candidates will be given equal consideration and protection in the candidacy process. Sexual orientation and gender identity are not and will not be considered in the evaluation of candidates by the Board of Ordained Ministry of the Northern Illinois Conference.”

In taking this action, the Board stands in a long Wesleyan tradition of making ordination decisions that are prophetic and faithful as we seek to serve God’s people in all places. In September 1784, John Wesley made the decision to ordain several preachers for the church in North America. He did so with the clear knowledge that he was acting outside of the order of the church he loved. But it was the right thing to do, and he did it. It was time. We also stand today with Boards of Ordained Ministries from the Baltimore-Washington, New York, and Pacific Northwest Annual Conferences who have already affirmed similar policies.

God calls diverse persons, who faithfully follow Jesus, to ministry. All of them bring wonderful gifts to our conference and to the overall mission of the church. We receive them gratefully and discern carefully who we will recommend for ordination. We consider the faith, character, call, gifts, and fruitfulness of all candidates for ordination.

We have been operating this way for some years and it has served us well. Today, it is time to make our process more explicit and public. Therefore, after careful consideration, we share this statement with the church. We seek to be open to receive those whom God calls to ordained ministry as deacons and elders in the Northern Illinois Conference.

In the service of Christ,
Rev. John Bell, Chair
Board of Ordained Ministry

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