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UM Church Officials To Appoint Pastor After Sex Change From Pastor Richard To Pastor Rebecca

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Church to rule on cleric who had sex change
Methodist pastor in Md. took leave of absence for surgical procedure
By Julie Hirschfeld Davis
Sun Staff
Originally published June 5, 2002


  • Methodist Church officials are expected to decide this week whether to reappoint a Thurmont minister who took a leave of absence from his congregation to have a sex-change operation and become a woman.

    The question of whether to allow the minister - formerly Richard A. Zamostny and now named Rebecca Steen - to end a voluntary leave of absence and lead a congregation has touched off a quiet discussion within the Baltimore-Washington Conference of the United Methodist Church, which is to debate the issue in a session tomorrow at the start of its annual meeting.
  • Bishop Felton Edwin May declined, through a spokesman, to comment on his position on Steen's return to active ministry, but Methodist leaders - both supporters and opponents - suggest that she will receive an appointment as requested. Before the leave, Zamostny served as pastor of churches in Thurmont and Rockville.
  • The Rev. J. Philip Wogaman, an ethicist and pastor of Foundry United Methodist Church in Washington, said undergoing a sex-change operation does not disqualify a person from being a minister.
  • Still, some conservative ministers and religious groups say the conference should find a way to prevent Steen from leading a congregation, even in the absence of rules that prevent it.
  • "This person, even though he uses a female name, in the sight of God is genetically still a man who has mutilated his body," said Mark Tooley, director of the United Methodist Committee of the conservative Institute on Religion and Democracy.

Copyright 2002, The Baltimore Sun


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