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United Methodist Church Commissions First Transgender Deacon

United Methodist Church Commissions First Transgender Deacon

The United Methodist Church in Chicago has just commissioned its first transgender deacon.

M. Barclay (kneeling, left) joins other deacons who were commissioned by the Northern Illinois Annual Conference of the United Methodist Church. | (PHOTO: INSTAGRAM/MXBARCLAY)

Reverend M. Barclay was recently commissioned as a provisional deacon and assigned at the Reconciling Ministries Network as the Director of Communications, United Methodist Church News reported.

While Barclay is not the first transgender person to serve in the pastoral service of the church, the newly ordained deacon is the first openly "non-binary trans person," who neither identifies as male of female, to be part of the church. Barclay used the pronoun "they" in singular form to refer to herself.

In 2009, Reverend David Weekly came out as a transgender to his congregation and encouraged open discussion about sexuality and membership to their church according to another article written in the UMC News.

Barclay uploaded a photo on Instagram as they prepare for the ceremony with the caption, "Gonna be an interesting few days ahead prepping for commissioning! I'm a comm director with no headshots. Lol Thankful for colleagues that can help me be not too awkward in photos. #enby #calledout #transpastor #aqueercalling"

According to Barclay, "for so long, I've longed to be a pastoral presence in the world – and certainly you can do that without a collar – but we have ordination for a reason, and part of that is that I can publicly identify as a pastor now."

Barclay added that while it's uncommon for people in pastoral service to wear the collar on a daily basis, the deacon intend to wear it every day to provide "some profound and urgently needed pastoral opportunities, particularly for queer and trans people."

According to Refinery 29, the deacon initially sought ordination in Texas but was rejected because of sexuality concerns. Barclay then moved to Chicago and became part of the Reconciling Ministries Network, which advocates for the LGBT to be included in the different aspects of church.

However, the deacon's commissioning was also met with some criticisms.

Reverend Thomas Lambrecht, head of the United Methodist Group's Good News, an anti-gay organization within the church, stated that while the church is open to homosexuals, leadership positions should not be handed out easily.

"We should probably draw the line at leadership, seeing transgender persons as not qualified for leadership," said Lambrecht.

He added that the commissioning of the Northern Illinois Annual Conference of Barclay is "premature" and will definitely bring up many concerns and confusion in the minds of the church's members.

Barclay's commissioning last Sunday for a provisional two-year period will culminate in an ordination ceremony set for 2019.


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