Bishop makes ruling in Southwest Texas Ordination Case

Bishop DorffSAN ANTONIO, Tex — Bishop James E. Dorff of the San Antonio Episcopal Area of the United Methodist Church issued his ruling of law today regarding the discontinuance of the candidacy of Mary Ann Kaiser, determining that the request for a ruling was “moot and hypothetical” and that he would offer “…no decision on the substance of the request…”
This ruling was requested as a part of the Southwest Texas Annual Conference session on June 8 to provide clarity about the legal issues regarding the decision by the Southwest Texas Annual Conference clergy members  to overturn the Austin District Committee on Ministry’s certification of Ms. Kaiser as a candidate for ordained ministry. This decision was made at the recommendation of the Southwest Texas Annual Conference Board of Ordained ministry, who reported that Kaiser’s identification as a practicing homosexual made her ineligible as a candidate for ministry.

The request for the ruling from the Bishop was made by Kaiser’s supervisor, the Rev. John Elrod, Sr. Pastor of University United Methodist Church in Austin. In making the request Elrod questioned the procedures used by the board of ordained ministry, suggesting that they did not adequately fulfill the requirements in the United Methodist Book of Discipline for proper investigation and interviewing of candidates for ministry.

[do action=”pullquote”]Click here to read The United Methodist News Service story on this ruling[/do]

Bishop Dorff’ said that his decision was based on Judicial Council decisions 33 and 799 which limits rulings of law to be “…germane to the regular business, consideration, or discussion of the conference session and shall state the connection to a specific action taken, or the question must be raised during the deliberation of a specific issue of a matter upon which the conference takes action.” Dorff stated that since the question focused on the procedures of the board of ordained ministry, they did not directly address a specific ruling of the business of the annual conference.

Dorff acknowledged that some persons throughout the conference would be unhappy with his ruling. He wrote: ” I have come to believe that some persons expected my ruling on this request to somehow change the requirements for ordination in the United Methodist Church.   I do not have such authority.   The position of the Church cannot be changed by any committee, board, annual conference, or Bishop.   Only the General Conference can make such changes.   It meets again in 2016. ”

Mary Ann KaiserIn a response posted on the Reconciling Ministries Network website, Kaiser said that she was “grieved” by the bishop’s decision. She wrote: ” I had full confidence that the Bishop would take the ascribed 30 days to discern a conviction one way or another on whether or not it is within UMC polity to remove me without ever meeting me. Instead, the Bishop has chosen to argue a technicality. Because the Board of Ordained Ministry acted to remove my name from candidacy (in violation of Disciplinary paragraphs 635.2h and 635.2j), I was not recommended to the Annual Conference and thus my case was no longer “germane” to the business of Annual Conference. In other words, once the Board decided to remove me, a day later, the Bishop suggests, I was no longer conference business.”

Kaiser’s response went on to suggest that Bishop Dorff had “…renounced his responsibility to “guard the Discipline of the Church (par. 403.1)” by refusing to hold an official body of the annual conference accountable to carry out clear mandates of the Discipline. ”

Dorff reported that his ruling had been referred to the Judicial Council for review, hopefully as a part of their October docket. The Judicial Council can either affirm the decision or return it to the bishop for further action.


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5 Comments on "Bishop makes ruling in Southwest Texas Ordination Case"

The United Methodist Reporter wants to encourage lively conversation about The United Methodist Church and our articles in the belief that Christian conversation (what Wesley would call conferencing) is a means of grace. While we support passionate debate, we cannot allow language that demeans or demonizes others, and we reserve the right to delete any comment we believe to be harmful or inappropriate. We encourage all to remember that we are all broken and in need of Christ's grace, and that we all see through the glass darkly until that time we when reach full perfection in love. May your speech here be tempered with love, and reflection of the fruits of love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control. After all, "There is no law against things like this." (Galatians 5:22-23)
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Oh, My! I hope Jesus isn't reading your comment. …We have but one judge! The judge is God. I hope you feel the relief which comes from letting God be our judge and let the matter of judging others to the All Powerful One. I am certainly not a liberal but to let ourselves want to enjoy, appreciate, and learn from all of our God given talented and God loving gay persons is sheer folly. If being gay is a choice tell me why are so many gay people are among the most contributing citizens which have born through the… Read more »
I am so thankful the UMC has stayed firm on refusing to ordain persons practicing homosexuality and in affirming the biblical teaching that this behavior is contrary to God's will. The issue as I see it is a question of what we are going to allow to determine our values and define our understandings: the Scriptures or the culture? The culture chooses to emphasize a potential biological disposition toward homosexuality and then to claim that such a person is both defined by this biology and compelled to act on it. That is false. Not only are there heterosexual impulses that… Read more »

To quote Rev. Jim Rigby: "…to abandon the one sheep so the ninety-nine can remain comfortable in their prejudice has betrayed them all, and makes one a very poor shepherd indeed."


So you want the UMC to become apostate like the episcopal church and the ELCA churces? You want the UMC to turn its back on Holy Scripture ane lose any salt or light that it has and become more like the world? I would suggest that you take your liberal, pro homosexual agenda to the episcopals or the ELCA where it would be welcomed with open arms. As for me, I will continue to stand on the solid ground of the Word of God.


The General Conference of the UMC needs to start getting in step with the progressive movement
on the issue of homosexuality and in question here, the ordination of all people. And, as is the case very often, all we have making decisions is a bunch of conservative behind the times men.

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