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Affirmation Congratulates the Rev. Drew Phoenix

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    Affirmation Congratulates the Rev. Drew Phoenix For Immediate Release, May 31, 2007 By Diane DeLap, Affirmation spokesperson Affirmation congratulates the Rev.
    Message 1 of 1 , May 31, 2007
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      Affirmation Congratulates the Rev. Drew Phoenix

      For Immediate Release, May 31, 2007

      By Diane DeLap, Affirmation spokesperson

      Affirmation congratulates the Rev. Drew Phoenix, a
      Baltimore-Washington Conference pastor, for his courage in stepping
      forward and declaring that he is going through gender transition.
      This is a difficult decision under any circumstances and especially
      given the unwelcome atmosphere prevalent in much of today's United
      Methodist Church (UMC). Recent Judicial Council decisions have made
      it possible for a pastor to deny a child of God membership in the UMC
      simply because they are gay, lesbian, bisexual or transgender. In the
      current atmosphere of hate and distrust, Affirmation recognizes and
      commends the tremendous amount of courage Rev. Phoenix has displayed.

      Unfortunately, we also recognize that his "coming out" may be the
      start of a long process of acceptance. In 2002 when Rev. Rebecca
      Steen surrendered her credentials as a United Methodist Church pastor
      in the same Baltimore-Washington Conference, it was after a long
      process that culminated in a series of vicious personal attacks. She,
      then as Rev. Richard Zomastny, approached Bishop May in October 1999
      with a request for a voluntary leave of absence to complete the gender
      transition process. The Conference's ministry board, charged with
      assessing the fitness of the clergy, twice approved Steen's return
      from leave. Despite that, and the fact that there is no prohibition
      against transgender clergy in the Book of Discipline, as there is
      against gay and lesbian clergy, a number of Becky's clergy colleagues
      mounted an attempt to force her removal. Seeing that she was to face
      a long series of destructive personal attacks, she determined to leave
      the UMC.

      It is our prayer that Drew's experience will be more positive. He is
      blessed with a supportive congregation, and received a standing
      ovation at the recent Annual Conference meeting. However, it is clear
      that opposition will continue to grow. There is already a move by
      some pastors in the Conference to petition the Judicial Council to
      overturn Rev. Phoenix's appointment, and petitions are being prepared
      by conservative groups to prohibit the appointment of transgender
      clergy. Mark Tooley, director of the UMAction of The Institute on
      Religion and Democracy spoke on the Albert Mohler Radio Program
      Tuesday, May 29th and, after noting the denomination's General
      Conference scheduled for May, 2008, he stated "this case of Rev.
      Phoenix now guarantees that the idea of transsexual clergy will be
      addressed in church law." In addition he notes the appeal by
      Baltimore-Washington clergy to the Judicial Council and says "this
      court could still say, in all honesty, that the denomination does not
      have an official policy on transsexual clergy, so a specific law will
      need to be ratified."

      As the journey toward full inclusion of all God's children moves
      forward, Affirmation lauds those like the Rev. Drew Phoenix who help
      lead us on the way.

      -30-

      As an independent voice of Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, and
      Queer people, Affirmation radically reclaims the compassionate and
      transforming gospel of Jesus Christ by relentlessly pursuing full
      inclusion in the Church as we journey with the Spirit in creating
      God's beloved community. We affirm a Gospel of respect, love, justice
      and mercy for all. Affirmation is an activist, all-volunteer,
      not-for-profit organization with no official ties to The United
      Methodist Church.

      How to Contact Us:

      Affirmation email: umaffirmation@...
      Affirmation web: http://www.umaffirm.org
      Snail-Mail: Affirmation, P.O. Box 1021, Evanston, IL 60204.
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