New York Clergy Member Resigns from Board of Ordained Ministry

The Rev. Chuck Ferrara, until recently a member of the New York Annual Conference Board of Ordained Ministry, sent the following letter to Bishop Thomas Bickerton:

Rev. Chuck Ferrara

Dear Bishop Bickerton,

I know you are somewhat familiar with my background. But just in case you are not, I would like to point out two areas of my past that speak profoundly to my decision to resign from the board of ordained ministry. First, I was an Army Captain Special Forces ODA A-team commander. We were a small group of twelve who could be dropped anywhere in the world to ruin your day. It was ingrained in me to obey the chain of command and follow orders to the most minute detail (provided the order was lawful). Second, I am retired as an NYPD lieutenant who spent a career enforcing the laws; I didn’t bend them, I enforced them. I was honest, held my head high with integrity and was fair as I carried out my duties.

Now, for my present status. I have been an ordained member of the UMC for the past thirty years. I always served with integrity and garnered the respect and praises of my bishops, district superintendents and leadership in the various churches I have served. I cannot tolerate unlawful behavior, no matter how righteous it may appear.

The recent decision of the board of ordained ministry to thumb its nose at the recent Judicial Council ruling is nothing less than rebellion. I am not homophobic, and, in fact you can interview members of my present and former churches who will tell you that I never differentiated between straight and gay members. The theological question is for another discussion. However, to ignore the official position of the church, be indifferent about an official ruling and violating The Book of Discipline, which governs the order of our great church is the straw that broke this camel’s back. 

When I played football, baseball, and basketball, I put on a uniform with pride and took the field. There were rules I had to abide by. Home plate was 17 inches, not 23. You didn’t widen the plate to satisfy a pitcher or hitter who could not abide by the rules. Our board has just widened the plate without the official approval of General Conference. This, in my opinion, is mutiny. I will have no part of that based on the aforementioned.

Sir, I will continue to serve my local church to the best of my God-given ability and work to make disciples of Jesus Christ. And I will also continue to serve on my district committee on ordained ministry where committee members have shown respect for our polity.

You have no idea how writing this email hurts me. I am a team player. The Airborne Corps had a slogan: “ALL THE WAY!” I am an all the way kind of guy, unless, however, the commander breaks the rules. The rules have been broken and I can no longer go all the way.

With the deepest respect and heavy heart, I resign from the New York Annual Conference Board of Ordained Ministry.

In Christ,

Chuck Ferrara

Pastor

Patchogue UMC

 

Comments

  1. Matt Winward says:

    “Pastor Chuck” is my former pastor. He is on a very short list of men I truly admire in this lifetime. I am sorry to see him resign from the board, but like him the conference leadership has given him no choice. This is a sad day for the New York Annual Conference.

    • Charles E. Spickard says:

      I must admire and agree with “Pastor Chuck” in his stand on the issue of those defying the discipline.

  2. Rev. Dr. John D. Abbott, Jr. says:

    This pastor is actually living out his faith in God through Jesus Christ without regard to political correctness. His focus is on Jesus Christ and the Scriptural mandate to obey Christ. I support his public stand and pray that many other Pastors will do likewise. I will be praying for this man of God to be blessed beyond measure for his obedience.

  3. Concerned Methodist says:

    I’m concerned. Was Goodnews given permission to repost this letter to your website? Can you note this in your posting? Also, I’m sad that this pastor resigned from BOOM because his voice could have been heard by the rest of the board. However, I don’t know the dynamics. Perhaps he couldn’t be heard. This grieves me that we can no longer dialogue about the tough topics. Instead, we have to take take sides and loose the ability to dialogue. I’m thankful for Tom L.’s recent explanation about the myths of the Way Forward Commission. Tom sounded very pastoral for all sides of the issue and gave me hope that we can agree to disagree and move forward in what is most important-loving God, loving each other, and making disciples of Jesus Christ for the Transformation of the world. Thank you Tom. Appreciate you.

  4. The Rev. Mr. Ferrara is to be admired for his courageous stand. I hope this will be widely emulated! “. . . . the tree is known by its fruit.” (Mt 12:33)

  5. It is a sad day in Christianity, when an ordained cleric resigns because the conference in which he was a part, decided that it could no longer tolerate discrimination.
    Has the Rev. Mr. Ferrara been a pastor sixty years ago, he, too would have faced discrimination and relegated, along with his congregation if they were African American, to the Central Jurisdiction, due to the color of his skin. Even if his church was in the NY Conference, he would have been in that Central Jurisdiction, along with pastors and congregants from Iowa, Florida, California. In 1968, the Central Jurisdiction was abolished. Fortunately, for the Rev. Mr. Ferrara, he was ordained thirty years ago, years after the UMC finally decided to treat our African American pastors and congregations with more respect and no longer discriminate.
    Now, we see history repeating and we now discriminate against our LBGT sisters and brothers.
    I have hope, not in my lifetime as I am in my 80s, that this discrimination will, also, end.

  6. I am sorry to say that I made a typographical error. I said “Has” Rev. Mr. Ferrara, it should have read “Had” Rev. Mr. Ferrara.

Trackbacks

  1. […] “First, I was an Army Captain Special Forces ODA A-team commander. We were a small group of twelve who could be dropped anywhere in the world to ruin your day. It was ingrained in me to obey the chain of command and follow orders to the most minute detail (provided the order was lawful),” wrote Ferrara. […]

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