On June 7, Rev. John Elford, the pastor where Mary Ann serves as Youth Director and Justice Associate at University UMC in Austin, spoke on behalf of Mary Ann, asking Bishop Dorff for a rule of law, saying
Yesterday, a premature decision was made by the Board of Ordained Ministry, to remove Mary Ann Kaiser from the candidacy process on account of her being lesbian without following proper procedures or at minimum, interviewing her. The clergy session voted by a slim majority to maintain that decision, but the correctness of the polity remains in question. As we strive to maintain all of the policies of the Book of Discipline, I respectfully request a ruling of law as to whether a Board of Ordained Ministry can decline to consider the candidacy of a certified candidate for ordained ministry who has been appropriately recommended by a District Committee on Ordained Ministry.
Paragraph 635.2 h of the 2012 Book of Discipline of the United Methodist Church requires a Board of Ordained Ministry to "examine all applicants as to their fitness for the ordained ministry and make a full inquiry as to the fitness of the candidate."
And paragraph 635.2 j further requires the Board of Ordained Ministry to interview the candidate. Yet, Mary Ann has not been interviewed. On what grounds can she be removed from candidacy if she has not been interviewed?
Mary Ann has also fulfilled all five conditions for the continuation of her candidacy under paragraph 313 of the BOD.
Finally, bishop, this is not a publicity stunt. Nor is it a question of whether or not we, as a church, are ordaining LGBTQ folks. This is about whether we will follow disciplinary procedures as we support those like Mary Ann whom God is calling into ministry. If we cannot promise to treat our future leaders with respect, compassion, and in a spirit of relationship as they enter the process of ordination, we have little hope of ensuring a future for our church.
In response to the SWTX Conference Board of Ordained Ministry’s decision to remove Mary Ann Kaiser from the candidacy process at their June 6, 2013 meeting (a decision sustained by the Clergy Session), I request a ruling of law as to whether a Board of Ordained Ministry can can decline to consider a certified candidate for ordained ministry who has been appropriately recommended by a District Committee on Ordained Ministry without an interview and examination.
Click here to read the full account of Mary Ann's story at annual conference.