We wish to add our voices to those who are expressing frustration with
the failure of our United Methodist polity to adequately address the status
of the Rev. Rebecca Steen. It is apparent to the public that the Clergy
Session of the Baltimore-Washington Annual Conference will be unable to
prevent the Rev. Rebecca Steen from becoming available for an appointment in
our Conference. Our Bishop, Felton Edwin May, has carefully led us through
this process and we are appreciative of his desire to treat this issue
fairly and openly.
While we affirm that a transgendered person is and always will be a child
of God and a person of sacred worth, we do not believe that such a person is
able to fulfill the necessary requirements, gifts and graces to serve as a
United Methodist clergy person. We know that many United Methodists across
this Conference agree with this view and are frustrated at this current
situation. There is also an indication that this frustration could result in
our members and clergy questioning their continuance in this denomination.
To those persons, we are asking them to pause and give our Book of
Discipline the chance to catch up with this issue.
We face this divisive issue because the Book of Discipline does not
address the issue of the appointment of a transgendered person. It doesnít
address this issue because the church has never had to face this issue
before. We are presenting the Renaissance Affirmation today because we
believe now is the time to develop denominational legislation that would
preclude persons with gender identity disorder
from serving as clergy in the
We want to ask those persons who disagree with the Board of Ordained
Ministryís action that allows Rev. Steen to come off of leave of absence
June 30, 2002, to join
with us in continuing to work for changes in our Book of Discipline.
We expect to bring legislation before our Annual Conference in the next
year that will provide biblical, ethical, theological, and psychological
reasons as to why someone suffering from gender identity disorder does not
fit the necessary criteria for the ordained ministry.
In light of these issues we have issued the Renaissance Affirmation. We
invite our brothers and sisters of the BWC to join with us in setting new
policy and direction, not just for the BWC, but for the
UnitedMethodistChurch on the issue of gender
The Renaissance Affirmation
We offer these initial affirmations on this difficult issue and we invite
further dialogue across the church. We do not claim to fully understand this
issue but find it necessary that we make the following affirmations.
We affirm that our Creator Godís intent for humanity was that we are
created male and female (Genesis
-25) and that this ďgood
giftĒ is affirmed in our own Book of Discipline (par. 161.f). We also know
that Genesis chapter 3 gives us the doctrine of the fall, which teaches that
Godís original intent for creation has been distorted as a direct result of
sin, which are human choices that ignore Godís instructions.
We also affirm that it is Godís desire to redeem the fallen humanity and
restore it to the wholeness of Godís original intent. Through Jesus Christ
and his death, God began bringing us back to wholeness to Godís self. This
work of healing is not solely a future event, but something that is to be
happening here and now by the work of the
God and through the body of
Based on this foundational biblical witness we cannot contradict
Scripture and say that God has made a mistake when someone is created as
biologically male or female and feels that they are of the other gender. We
can affirm however that this feeling is a result of our human condition as a
part of a fallen humanity. We can also affirm that based on the witness of
scripture (Romans 8:5-13) that it is Godís intent to bring a person with
gender identity disorder to wholeness, to bring their feelings of gender in
congruence with their biological sex.
Medical science has given us the ability to cosmetically alter our
appearance as either male or female but it has not given us the ability to
alter our biological sex, nor should it. Medical science cannot restore
fallen people to wholeness, but we wholeheartedly affirm that Godís
redemptive power in Jesus Christ can.
The body of evidence for transsexuality having a psychological cause is
significantly greater and longer standing than the biological research.
 The published academic literature indicates that transsexual
people as children have experienced much greater psychological trauma than
These traumas may have lead to the feelings of gender confusion but this is
treatable. It has been discovered that in some cases treatment of concurrent
psychiatric conditions has resulted in transsexual behavior ceasing in
Gender reassignment surgery is one form of treatment that is often based on
the patientís subjective wishes and not based on addressing the traumas and
hurts that in all likelihood caused the condition, thus allowing the true
cause of pain and confusion to go untreated and puts the person at risk for
further emotional damage.
We cannot affirm gender reassignment surgery as the proper medical
treatment for gender identity disorder. We affirm the Churchís role in
providing and encouraging a response that emphasizes both psychological and
physical wholeness rather than concentrating on artificial and cosmetic
physical changes. We need to offer a Christ-centered holistic approach with
the aim of restoration for any hurting individual. We affirm that Christ
desires wholeness for all people, in every aspect of life.
We affirm that a person suffering from gender identity disorder is and
always will be a child of God and a person of sacred worth. We acknowledge
our need to welcome and minister to transsexual people as ďall persons need
the ministry and guidance of the churchĒ (Book of Discipline par. 161.G).
In light of these affirmations, we do not believe that such a person, is
able to fulfill the necessary requirements, to serve as a United Methodist