"Rev. Phoenix merits compassion for a lifelong struggle over gender identity issues, as related at the conference. But the church helps no one when it fails to faithfully transmit the Gospel of hope and transformation. -- Mark Tooley, Director of UMAction
Contact: Loralei Coyle, 202-682-4131, 202-905-6852 cell, firstname.lastname@example.org; Radio Interviews: Jeff Walton, email@example.com; both with The Institute on Religion and Democracy
WASHINGTON, May 25 /Christian Newswire/ -- A United Methodist minister in Baltimore who underwent a surgical change of gender identity has been reappointed, it was announced at the Baltimore-Washington Annual Conference of the United Methodist Church, meeting now in Washington, D.C. The former Rev. Ann Gordon, now known as Rev. Drew Phoenix, told the annual conference of a "spiritual transformation" since the sex change procedure.
The decision, announced by Bishop John Schol, was not uncontroversial. During the closed conference, some ministers asked for a "ruling of law," that automatically takes the issue to the Judicial Council, United Methodism's highest court. The Judicial Council next meets in October.
The United Methodist Church has no explicitly stated, official policies regarding sexual identity changes or sex change operations. The denomination does officially disapprove of homosexual behavior. Rev. Phoenix' congregation of several dozen people supports the "Reconciling" movement within United Methodism, which campaigns to overturn the church's official teachings on marriage and sexual ethics.
Director of UMAction Mark Tooley commented:
"Gender is not a choice but a reality. The church's calling is to facilitate healing, not echo the secular culture's mantras about 'diversity.'
"Because the issue of gender change is a relatively new one, UM Action is calling for legislation at the 2008 General Conference of The United Methodist Church to fully address the issue of sexual identity change.
"The decision to reappoint the former Rev. Gordon to St. John's church in Baltimore, with no wider discussion in the church, sets a troubling precedent. Once again, liberal church elites, presiding over dwindling churches, are making decisions without regard for historic Christian teaching or a wider consensus among the church's membership.
"Rev. Phoenix merits compassion for a lifelong struggle over gender identity issues, as related at the conference. But the church helps no one when it fails to faithfully transmit the Gospel of hope and transformation.
"We hope The United Methodist Church will act, where the leadership of the Baltimore-Washington Conference has failed, by establishing clear ethical and theological guidelines about the role of gender is God's creation."