Pastor Ordained in Two Traditions Surrenders United Methodist
The United Methodist clergyman who sought to hold dual ordination in the United Methodist Church and the Roman Catholic Church has surrendered his United Methodist ministerial credentials.
The credentials, surrendered by the Rev. W. Paul Jones April 18, were officially accepted by the clergy session of the Missouri West Annual Conference in closed session in Columbia, Mo., May 27. Jones cited "the eucharistic centrality and the sacramental approach to life," as the reason for his decision to retain his Roman Catholic ordination rather than remain United Methodist.
When Missouri Area Bishop Ann Sherer returned Jones' Certificate of Ordination to him, marked "honorably dismissed," she wrote, "I returned your orders with absolute confidence that the ordination, which the Spirit conferred and the Methodist Church affirmed and authorized in 1954, continues in you as a Roman Catholic priest. God's blessing."
Ordained into the Methodist Church in 1954, Jones then was ordained a priest of the Roman Catholic Church in 1996. It was his desire to retain full ordination in both traditions. He hoped dual ordination would help bridge the gap between the two churches, which he believes have much to offer each other.
To become a priest, he was required to be confirmed as a member of the Roman Catholic Church.
The United Methodist Church's Judicial Council, the denomination's supreme court, ruled on a similar case when William Farmer, an ordained United Methodist minister in the North Texas Annual Conference, joined a Roman Catholic Church. The council determined that a United Methodist pastor cannot concurrently be a lay member of another faith communion.
For months Sherer sought resolution to Jones' dilemma. She entered into conversations with Bishop Michael McAuliffe of the Jefferson City Diocese of the Roman Catholic Church. After cooperatively exploring all avenues, both episcopal leaders concluded that "at this point in history it is not possible for Paul to have membership in both churches."
In a joint statement, Sherer and McAuliffe recognized Jones' "passion to help restore the unity of the church as Christ's seamless robe," and named him to serve as the ecumenical liaison between the Missouri West Annual Conference and the Jefferson City Diocese. The intent, they said, is to foster understanding between the two traditions.
John Stein, director of communications for the Missouri West Annual Conference of the United Methodist Church, provided information for this release.