1619Transgender Clergy Surrenders Ministerial Credentials
- Jul 1, 2002CALLED OUT
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
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