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Jolie Rouge
10-30-2007, 06:34 PM
Transgender minister allowed to keep job
By MICHELLE LOCKE, Associated Press Writer
17 minutes ago

BERKELEY, Calif. - A United Methodist transgender minister said Tuesday he was "happily surprised" by a church council ruling allowing him to stay on the job.

The church's top court, which considered the issue during a recent session in San Francisco, stopped short of addressing whether a change of gender violates the denomination's rules.

Instead, the judicial council referred to church policy that says a clergyperson in good standing can't be terminated unless there's been administrative or judicial action.

"The adjective placed in front of the noun 'clergyperson' does not matter," the council ruled. "What matters is that clergypersons, once ordained and admitted to membership in full connection, cannot have that standing changed without being accorded fair process."

In a related ruling, the council said all name changes should be treated the same regardless of the reason.

The case involved the Rev. Ann Gordon, who spent five years as minister at St. John's United Methodist Church in Baltimore before undergoing surgery and hormone therapy and becoming the Rev. Drew Phoenix.

Phoenix was reappointed this spring by Bishop John Schol of the Methodists' Baltimore-Washington Annual Conference, who noted that the denomination's Book of Discipline said nothing about transgender clergy.

The United Methodist Church bars appointing self-avowed practicing gay clergy and does not support gay unions. The issue of whether the church can have a transgender minister may yet be addressed by the church's legislative body, which meets next spring in Fort Worth, Texas.

Phoenix, who learned of the ruling Tuesday, said he has sometimes been discouraged by negative reaction to his status but thinks that staying on the job is a way to change minds.

"I've always been hopeful that the church will open its doors more and be more inclusive of the (lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender) community, and I believe that happens when those of us that are in that community just keep showing up," he said.

The judicial council met without its president, surgeon general nominee James Holsinger, who is a Kentucky cardiologist.

Holsinger, who has been criticized by gay rights groups for various things including a 1991 paper in which he says gay sex was unnatural and unhealthy, bowed out of the meeting, saying his nomination could become a distraction.

http://news.yahoo.com/s/ap/20071031/ap_on_re_us/transgender_pastor;_ylt=Ai1yzUg7xTGFW.MTcBjujyus0N UE

On the Net:

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