The NIC Board of Ordained Ministry delivered its report to the annual clergy session held May 23, 2017. Here’s a portion of the report from Chair Rev. Danita R. Anderson responding to the recent Judicial Council ruling:
Last year our work was called into question and has resulted in a ruling from the Judicial Council, decision No. 1344. We recognize that the Judicial Council did not change or add disciplinary language or requirements to the candidacy, licensing, and ordination process and that we are not at liberty to disregard qualifications for licensed and ordained ministry. Thus, after much prayer and discernment, the Board has voted to form a task force to review our procedures and policies to ensure that we are appropriately examining our candidates.
In the meantime, we will continue to follow the procedure for interviewing candidates as laid out in the Book of Discipline, making a “full examination” of those seeking local pastor licenses, commissioning, and full membership in our annual conference. We will continue to follow the standards and ask the questions found in ¶ 310, 324, 330 and 335 of our Book of Discipline for provisional membership, deacon and elder respectively. We have used those questions found in their respective paragraphs as well as other resources such as background and credit checks, Bible study outlines and sermons, fruitfulness projects, interviews, medical reports, references, psychological exams, and transcripts to arrive at our decision to recommend 20 of the 35 candidates we interviewed. It has always been our practice to welcome people of all sexual orientations and gender identities into the sacred process of ordination, giving all candidates equal consideration in our process of discerning those who can live up to the high standards for fitness, readiness and effectiveness in ministry that the Northern Illinois Conference demands. We will continue to seek candidates who uphold these standards.
As we read and respond to the Judicial Council decision, we look with hope to the work of the Commission on the Way Forward and their report in February 2019. This task force will provide an update at the 2018 Clergy Session of our work, discussion, and discernment, and then make their final report to the Clergy Session in 2019 following the report and decisions of the Commission on the Way Forward.
We will continue to seek candidates who uphold these standards. As we read and respond to the Judicial Council decision, we look with hope to the work of the Commission on the Way Forward and their report in February 2019.
We ask for your prayers for this very important and critical work and look with hope for a day when The United Methodist Church will reflect God’s gracious and expansive love for all.