Mary Ann Kaiser is a recent graduate of Austin Presbyterian Theological Seminary. She has a passion for working in the intersections of church and society. Her love for religious approaches to questions of ethics, particularly in the realms of race, gender, and sexuality, led her to internships at WATER (Women’s Alliance for Theology, Ethics, and Ritual) in Silver Spring, MD and Texas Freedom Network in Austin, TX. She has also worked for the Wesley Foundation and as a hospital chaplain. She currently serves as Youth Director and Justice Associate at University UMC in Austin.
Mary Ann was a certified candidate for ordained ministry in The United Methodist Church. Her home district committee voted to certify her earlier this year. Her ordination journey was halted abruptly on June 6 when The Southwest Texas Conference Board of Ordained Ministry recommended to the clergy of the conference to revoke her certification because Mary Ann identifies as a lesbian. The vote narrowly passed, temporarily pausing Mary Ann’s process. Proper procedures in the UMC’s own rule book, The Book of Discipline, were ignored by the conference. Furthermore, simply identifying as a lesbian is not grounds to remove someone from the ordination process. Rules were broken. Harm was done. What’s more, the Board of Ordained Ministry has not met Mary Ann.
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 on the floor of Annual Conference, asking Bishop Dorff for 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.
MFSA proudly stands with Mary Ann in her struggle with the inequality and unfairness of the UMC. To read more on this important story – and to learn what you can do to help – go to: