Saturday, May 26, 2007

Kudos to Bishop Schol and the Baltimore Washington Annual Conference

Kudos to Bishop Schol and the Baltimore Washington Annual Conference for supporting the ministry of Rev. Drew Phoenix this week during their annual conference session!

The Baltimore Washington session of annual conference affirmed Rev. Phoenix's call to ordained ministry after what he describes as a spiritual transformation during which he transitioned from female to male. As a commitment to Rev. Phoenix's ministry, Bishop Schol re-appointed him to the congregation he has faithfully pastored for five years; a congregation which has tripled in size under his leadership.

Over fifty years ago, women in the Church struggled to break the gender barrier that excluded them from the ranks of ordained ministry. In the midst of this movement, many called upon the practice and ministry of our founder, John Wesley, who blessed and encouraged women's leadership in the Church. For Wesley, the call to ministry was not restricted by gender or age or even class. Wesley was convinced that the marks of a true preacher, the marks of someone authentically called by God to serve the church were rooted in the fruits of their labor. It was on this basis that he not only permitted, but affirmed the leadership of women as preachers in the early Methodist movement.

As the Church considers the ministry of Rev. Phoenix, we ought to remember the marks of a faithful pastor as outlined by Wesley. We ought to be more concerned with the fruits of one's ministry than any social category or identity. Gender identity for Wesley then and for us now is no barrier to a call from God.

Rev. Phoenix is one of many, faithful transgender persons who is leading the way for the Church as we struggle to understand issues of sexual orientation and gender identity. The clear affirmation of Rev. Phoenix and his ministry is a hopeful step forward in the midst of what is often a painful and difficult denominational conversation on the nature of gender and sexuality.

1 comment:

Kirk said...

He's done a fantastic job at his church too. A church that was about to close it's doors and fold like so many churches in the Northeastern Jurisdiction are in danger of doing has tripled in membership and become a thriving beacon of revived minsitry in the city. If bigotry or 'scared silence' were to have carried the day and removed Rev. Phoenix from this church, we'd have robbed our denomination of an entire congregation. How many other congregations could we have saved by not removing their gifted and faithful GBLT pastors?