Methodists Meet to Evaluate Transgenderism, Starting With Baltimore Pastor

The Rev. Drew Phoenix is many things to many people.

To congregants of St. John’s of Baltimore, he’s the fun-loving pastor who counsels them, takes their children hiking, explains Scripture and plunges into worthy causes.

To conservative Methodists, Phoenix embodies another front in the culture wars: a rebel who has defied God and nature and should be removed from ministry.

To mainstream society, Phoenix is an enigma who transcends traditional sexual boundaries, provoking uncomfortable questions about the interplay between body, mind and soul.

To the Judicial Council of the United Methodist Church, he’s number IV on the docket for its Oct. 24-27 session: “A Review of Bishop’s Decision . . . Whether Transgendered Persons Are Eligible for Appointment in The United Methodist Church.”

The issue of transgenderism seems too hot to touch for religious Americans already bitterly divided over sexual orientation. A number of Methodist theologians and ethicists asked to comment for this article declined.

But as scientific advances and changing sexual mores allow transgender people to slowly move into the mainstream, religious leaders will soon have to grapple with the theological implications of sexual identity, scholars say.

Read it all.


Posted in * Religion News & Commentary, Methodist, Other Churches

12 comments on “Methodists Meet to Evaluate Transgenderism, Starting With Baltimore Pastor

  1. DonGander says:

    “To congregants of St. John’s of Baltimore, he’s the fun-loving pastor who counsels them, takes their children hiking, explains Scripture and plunges into worthy causes.”

    Gen 3:6 And when the woman saw that the tree [was] good for food, and that it [was] pleasant to the eyes, and a tree to be desired to make [one] wise, she took of the fruit thereof, and did eat,….

  2. robroy says:

    Several months ago, Sarah Hey linked a very good medical paper (ironically from Johns Hopkins in Baltimore, I believe) that looked at the failure of “gender reassignment” surgery to rectify the psychiatric ramifications of “gender dysphoria” disorder. In other words, these patients were left with the same or greater psychiatric issues after the surgery. I have tried to relocate that link on several occasions. Perhaps she might read this and give the citation…purty pleez?!?

  3. VaAnglican says:

    Note that Miss Gordon even changed her surname to the oh-so-clever “Phoenix.” Quite apart from the issue of attempting to change one’s sex, there is an issue of whether those admitted to the priesthood or ministry ought not have a bit more stability about them, and whether churches ought to reject the assertion that seems to have taken hold that anyone has a “right” be be ordained. People have been attracted to religious vocations for all the wrong reasons for eons, and many of those wrong reasons have to do with deep-seated insecurities and disorders. Churches have a responsibility–to those in the pews and to God–to vet those claiming to have discerned a call. Judging from those in pulpits each Sunday, across denominations, this is a responsibility that has been shirked.

  4. Sherri says:

    anyone has a “right” be be ordained

    This is a sad egalitarianism to me.

  5. BCP28 says:

    Oh boy…
    Background for anyone interested.

    St John’s shares a neighborhood with the mother church of American Methodism. They are three blocks apart. The neighborhood-Charles Village-is the center of Baltimore’s gay community. There was a disastrous fire at the church years ago that left a shell of a building and congregation. The BW conference has nearly closed it more times than I can count. They have various types of yoga classes and concerts in the nave/sanctuary (which was never really restored), and there is a “civil marriage is a civil right” banner on the front of the building. Not unusual in B’more, although I haven’t seen that particular banner on any ECUSA parishes.

    I was a Methodist under the previous bishop, so I don’t know this guy very well.

  6. RazorbackPadre says:

    According to their website, the slogan for this congregation is, “”This Ain’t Your Daddy’s Church”.

    Rather rich, eh. Tempting.

  7. RazorbackPadre says:

    From A Statement by the Rev. Drew Phoenix

    “You may ask what effect this is having on the church I am currently serving, St. John’s of Baltimore City. I can tell you that St. John’s is growing and thriving on its Discipleship Adventure. In the past 5 years, membership has quadrupled, for the first time in years families with children are participating, stewardship has tripled, several new ministries have been initiated, and the congregation has plans to begin renovating its old, historical building in order to be more efficient, effective, and relevant in its vision and mission.”

  8. robroy says:

    Thanks, Gordian for the reference! Really interesting article and would encourage all to read it.

    Re: the statement in #8 – The quadrupling of membership means that the 40 current members was previously 10? Perhaps that was after the fire mentioned in #6?
    [blockquote]the congregation has plans to begin renovating its old, historical building in order to be more efficient, effective, and relevant in its vision and mission.[/blockquote]
    They can plan all they want. A parish with an ASA of 40 is on its last legs. Perhaps more to make the building more [i]relevant[/i], they could have yoga mats instead of pews.

  9. Larry Morse says:

    I still don’t undersand why the sex-change people are in the same boat as the homosexuals and the lesbians. They are, after all, a very different kind of problem, and I would think that they would find the companionship of the h&l;crowd very unpleasant. Oon the one hand, a women who changes her name to Phoenix needs to be vetted with utmost care. On the other hand, if she really is now female in every sense, and esp. female in the hetero sense, then there is no reason why she cannot be ordained in a church that permits women ministers. LM

  10. BCP28 says:

    The fire was many years ago. And while I don’t know their ASA, it is not all that high. Neither is the ASA at any other parish of any kind from North Avenue to Johns Hopkins (9 blocks), except for the RC church. Children are not common in that neighborhood (although there are more than in nearby Mt Vernon), and I imagine some members are coming from elsewhere.

  11. ASimpleSinner says:

    To learn more about Rev Ann-Drew:

    Especially poignant and insightful: [QUOTE]”My transition to live fully as the male I know myself to be is very personal and deeply spiritual. As a Christian, I worship God – I AM. People frequently asked Jesus, ‘Who are you?’ His response was, ‘Who do you say I am?’ ‘Who do YOU say YOU are?’ I believe that our spiritual path is, in great part, the answer to: Who am I? I am…” said the statement. [/QUOTE]

    To see a photo of Rev. Ann-Drew
    From the St. John’s website…
    [QUOTE]At St. John’s, everyone is a minister.
    However, our Rev. Drew Phoenix leads our congregation in worship and in service. [/QUOTE]
    Now the reconciling members of St. Johns of Baltimore have noted new life has been breathed into the congregation by its involvement and collaboration with “Red Emmas” a coffee shop bookstore that self-describes itself…
    [QUOTE]What could be better than a collectively run business? Basically, the only thing left to do is keep the collective part and get rid of the “business”, in other words, to run the infrastructure of our world for ourselves in a democratic way without recourse to the structures of capitalist ownership. In more liberatory Communist traditions, the workplaces in such a post-capitalist society are called workers’ councils, and form the building blocks of a truly radical revolutionary government. (The original meaning of the word “soviet”, before being co-opted by state capitalist ideology, referred to workers’ councils.)

    Red Emma’s is most definitely a collective – we’re owned exclusively by the workers, and this ownership translates into direct worker self-management on a completely equal basis. We’d like to think that, given our collective dreams for a economically and politically more just world, and the amount of time we spend trying to do whatever we can to make these dreams a reality, we’re on our way towards being a workers’ council as well….

    Aaccording to this article ( they have collaborated to turn location into [QUOTE]These days St. John’s is also known by another name: 2640 Space. Initially a collaboration between the church and Red Emma’s anarchist bookstore and café, 2640 has grown into a 6-month-old collective drawing fresh blood from outside both groups.[/QUOTE]

    I think this group has the perfect pastor. She has transformed herself into a man. They have transformed the church into a activism HQ, and they have transformed Christianity into…

    Well, I am not sure what I would call that.