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In May 2017, after sixty years as an ordained United Methodist minister, Rev. J. Philip Wogaman surrendered his ordination, choosing to exit a community of clergy who will not allow an openly gay person to join. By surrendering his ordination, he chose to join the group of devoted Christians outside the clergy who welcomed gay and lesbian individuals.
Beginning with an examination of ordination and what is means theologically, ethically, and pastorally, Wogaman then describes the action itself and its aftermath. Surrendering My Ordination also explores how The United Methodist Church can move forward, beyond the polarized present situation found in many contemporary Christian churches.
“This book will challenge those who engage in the ‘violence of silence’ as they have allowed and continue to allow the UMC to tarnish its justice history by discriminating against same-gender-loving clergy and the clergy who support them.”
—Gilbert H. Caldwell, cofounder of Black Methodists for Church Renewal and coproducer of the documentary film From Selma to Stonewall: Are We There Yet?”
“Wogaman invites the reader into a
conversation to consider ways forward for the denomination regarding the
inclusion of gay and lesbian people in the life and ministry of the church.
This thoughtful book ought to be read by lay and clergy alike.”
—Bishop Karen Oliveto, The United Methodist Church, and author of Together at the Table: Diversity without Division in The United Methodist Church
“For someone who clearly believes it is the Christian imperative to honor and sanctify committed love between two people, it now would never occur to me that such a principled man could do anything other than surrender his ordination at this moment in The United Methodist Church.”
— Chelsea Clinton
“You have heard it said, ‘Faith without action is useless,’ and I
say to you, ‘J Philip Wogaman has anything but a useless faith.’
His action—surrendering his sixty-year-long ordination with the UMC—was the
logical, responsible, and loving manifestation of his commitment to fulfilling
the role of United Methodist minister with integrity. Surrendering My
Ordination reminded me not only of how far the church has yet to travel in
its full inclusion of LGBTQ individuals but also of why I still have hope for
such a transformation.”
—Colby Martin, Teaching Pastor, Sojourn Grace Collective, and author of Unclobber: Rethinking Our Misuse of the Bible on Homosexuality
“Not merely a book about sexuality and church conflict, this is a profound meditation on the theological, ethical, and pastoral meaning of ordination; on the cost of discipleship; and, ultimately, on which version of Christianity we will choose to inhabit in the days to come.”
—William Stacy Johnson, Arthur M. Adams Professor of Theology, Princeton Theological Seminary, and author of A Time to Embrace: Same-Gender Relationships in Religion, Law, and Politic
is any attitudes, acts, or practices that stand in the way of receiving the
grace of God: Dr. Wogaman’s words in one of the early chapters stayed in my
mind as I read his book. Those same words also follow me as a leader in a
church that is ‘getting it wrong’ as we continue the quest for justice that Dr.
Wogaman models for so many.”
—Jan Lawrence, Executive Director, Reconciling Ministries Network
“This is constructive criticism in the best sense, offering pointed questions and a far-reaching critique of exclusionary church policies along with positive, practical advice and wisdom for moving the church forward.”
—Mark Achtemeier, author of The Bible’s Yes to Same-Sex Marriage: An Evangelical’s Change of Heart