What to do about ordination? A gay divinity school student ponders her future

DURHAM, N.C. (RNS) — After finally accepting her call to preach, Spencer Cullom took a step of faith and began the yearslong process to become ordained in the United Methodist Church. She believed God called her to become a United Methodist minister.

And she hoped that her denomination would drop its restrictions against LGBTQ clergy and allow her to follow that call. But Cullom knew that might not happen.

“If the language in the Book of Discipline doesn’t change, I will not go through with this,” the 29-year old Duke Divinity School student vowed in fall 2017 when she sent a letter to a church official declaring her intention to begin the ordination process.

A ruddy-faced brunette with long, wavy hair and an easy smile, Cullom is a lesbian, and her denomination’s rule book — called the Book of Discipline — bars “self-avowed practicing homosexuals” from being ordained. It also calls the “practice of homosexuality … incompatible with Christian teaching.”

In February, the 12.6 million-member denomination decided to strengthen its LGBTQ clergy ban. This week in Evanston, Ill., the denomination’s top court will rule on the constitutionality of the recent vote to strengthen the bans against LGBTQ ordination and marriage. If the vote is ruled legally valid, new penalties on clergy violating the rules will go into effect Jan. 1.

Few will be watching the ruling as closely as LGBTQ seminary students whose calling and livelihoods are dependent on the outcome of the court’s ruling. Read more via Religion News Service