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1619Transgender Clergy Surrenders Ministerial Credentials

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    Jul 1, 2002
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      From United Methodist News Service


      July 1, 2002
      Transgender Clergy Surrenders Ministerial Credentials

      The Rev. Rebecca A. Steen, who underwent gender reassignment while on
      voluntary leave from her duties as a clergy member of the
      Baltimore-Washington Conference of the United Methodist Church,
      voluntarily surrendered her ministerial credentials and left the
      denomination in the opening minutes of a hearing June 28.

      Steen had expressed a desire to return to active ministry. Had that
      occurred in the normal cycle of church appointments, she would have
      been assigned to a church by Bishop Felton Edwin May, with the
      appointment taking effect July 1. However, a complaint, the contents
      of which remain confidential, was filed against her. Separately, the
      district superintendents sought a change in her status to involuntary

      At the June 28 hearing to determine her status, Steen submitted her
      withdrawal in writing. Those conducting the hearing included Bishop
      May, the conference district superintendents and the executive
      committee of the conference board of ordained ministry. The Rev. J.
      Philip Wogaman, who served as her advocate, accompanied Steen.

      In a statement issued later the same day, the bishop noted that
      because of the unresolved complaint against her, Steen's status falls
      under the designation "withdrawal under complaint" from the 2000 Book
      of Discipline, the denomination's rulebook.

      May said that the complaint did not concern Steen's gender
      reassignment but issues of pastoral effectiveness prior to a
      voluntary leave of absence, when she was the Rev. Richard A.

      Because the Discipline does not mention transgender clergy,
      officials who had assembled for the hearing decided to ask the
      churchwide Board of Higher Education and Ministry, as well as the
      Board of Church and Society, "to study, prepare appropriate
      legislation, and report to the 2004 General Conference on the issue
      of transgender clergy and their ability to serve within the United
      Methodist Church."

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