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Evangelical UM's Protest Appointment Of Sex-changed Pastor With "The Renaissance Affirmation"


Preamble to The Renaissance Affirmation

For more information, contact hideyb@baumc.com

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[1] from serving as clergy in the United Methodist Church.

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 effective 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 United Methodist Church on the issue of gender dysphoria.


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 2:18-25) 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 Kingdom of God and through the body of Christ.

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. [2] The published academic literature indicates that transsexual people as children have experienced much greater psychological trauma than non-transsexuals.[3] 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 individuals. [4] 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 clergy person.

The Renaissance Hotel, Washington, DC

June 8, 2002

http://www.baumc.com/renaissance/renaissance.htm

Rev. Barry E. Hidey, Bel Air UMC, Bel Air, MD,

Rev. Charles Harrell, Faith UMC, Rockville, MD,

Rev. Matthew Poole, Faithpoint UMC, Urbana, MD,

Rev. Loretta Johnson, Ames-Sudbrook UMC, Pikesville, MD,

Rev. Marguerite Groseclose, Bel Air UMC,

Rev. Kevin Baker, Cedar Grove UMC, Deale MD,

Rev. Stan Cardwell, St. Paulís UMC, Leonardtown, MD,

Rev. Jim Farmer, Trinity UMC, Prince Frederick, MD. 

We invite others to join with usÖ


[1] Gender Identity Disorder is ďa clinical term used to describe individuals who experience a persistent anxiety, confusion or dissonance resulting from their assigned birth sex.Ē

[2] Transsexuality, Evangelical Alliance Policy Commission, 2000, p.22

[3] Ibid, p.23

[4] Ibid. p. 27

 

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