Mary Ann Barclay (formerly Mary Ann Kaiser), was recommended for ministry by the Austin District Board of Ordained Ministry last year, but her ordination process was interrupted when the conference Board of Ordained Ministry refused to accept her because she is an out lesbian, read more by clicking HERE.
One of Mary Ann’s former professors writes in support of her candidacy, noting that the experience of her queer identity is a gift to her ministry. What if the Southwest Texas conference Board of Ordained Ministry made that same connection and recognized the multitude of unique gifts that are lost to our church when we reject members and ordination candidates based solely on their sexual orientation? What harm will be done to the Southwest Texas conference if the Board of Ordained Ministry rejects Mary Ann because she is married to a woman? How many more like Rev. Jen Stuart (see HERE) will we lose in coming years if Mary Ann is blocked from following her call within our conference?
To Whom It May Concern:
It is my pleasure to recommend Mary Ann Kaiser for ordained church ministry. I worked with Mary Ann as a student in my class in “Christian Creation Spiritualities,” and then again when she did an independent study with me focused upon developing meat substitutes in order to alleviate the killing of animals for food. She also served as one of two elected student representatives to the Admissions Committee of Austin Presbyterian Theological Seminary, which I chaired.
I found Mary Ann to be a bright, inquisitive, serious student with plenty of initiative. I was impressed with the way she openly faced some of modernity’s most significant conceptual challenges to Christian understanding, and in particular with her desire constructively to rethink and rehabilitate classic doctrines and confessions instead of simply abandoning them. In both the class and admissions committee context, I found Mary Ann willing to listen openly to and to participate respectfully with others, even in rather intense and contentious discussions. Mary Ann has no problem forming and clearly expressing her own ideas, but at the same time she is teachable and open to others.
On a couple occasions, as I do with a number of graduates, I met with Mary Ann for coffee and we chatted about her work in the church. Once again, most especially in a day when so many young people are abandoning the church, I was impressed with Mary Ann’s interest in finding credible, up-to-date ways of understanding and making relevant basic doctrines of faith – we had long conversations about doctrine of God, Christology, and revelation. I was also impressed by her realistic assessment of the political and interpersonal challenges that confront clergy as they strive to lead a congregation, and her interest in developing strategies to optimize her effectiveness in ministry.
Based on all of this, I believe that Mary Ann has tremendous promise for ministry, in particular if she can be paired with a good mentor to help guide her through her early years as a pastor. Today I worry that far too many people, in particular folks in Mary Ann’s generation, are too quickly leaving our churches. Since Mary Ann too has openly faced many of the conceptual and political reasons for disenchantment, but has nonetheless decided not only to remain committed to the church, but to commit her life to ministry, I think she may be especially well positioned to minister to many who feel disaffected.
In sum, Mary Ann has demonstrated that she has wonderful gifts for ministry, and I am pleased heartily and without reservation to recommend her for ordained church ministry.
Dr. William Greenway
Associate Professor of Philosophical Theology
Austin Presbyterian Theological Seminary