Chicago, IL – Bishop Hee-Soo Jung responded with “no comment” to reporters’ questions as he exited the conference offices of the Northern Illinois Annual Conference. Last week, three of his conference’s candidates for the ordained ministry tested positive for performance-enhancing drugs, including anabolic steroids.
“It’s an epidemic,” claimed Rev. Mark Winter of the Central Texas Annual Conference in a telephone interview yesterday. “Desperate to complete a grueling and highly competitive process, from certification to ordination, many candidates for the ordained ministry are resorting to any means necessary to stay on top.”
One such candidate from the Mississippi Annual Conference, who spoke to us under the condition of anonymity, said “You can’t make it past BOOM interviews unless you’re tougher, stronger, and faster than the next guy.
“We’re all taking ‘roids. BOOM knows it. Shoot, my candidacy mentor told me where to go for them,” he said emphatically.
Although the use of such drugs was whispered about within the United Methodist Church for years, news coverage and open discussion only began after the 2004 hospitalization of Andy Bryan of the Missouri Annual Conference after an overdose of tetrahydrogestrinone.
This was followed by the controversial ordination of Rev. Beth Quick of the North Central New York Annual Conference, who won the posedown round at the Board of Ordained Ministry in 2005 after gaining nine pounds of muscle mass in a single year. Quick was voted into full connection by that Conference’s clergy session by a three-vote margin.
Since then, eighteen Annual Conferences have moved to require drug testing for candidates before appearing before their Boards of Ordained Ministry.
“It doesn’t help at all,” the anonymous Mississippi candidate responded when asked about the new testing regulations. “Candidates just stop taking six weeks before their BOOM appearance and let the ‘roids wash out of their bloodstream in time for the test. Then they start again. It’s not going away so as long as the ordination industry profits from having the biggest, beefiest candidates in the world.”