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Transgender Clergy in the Episcopal Church
January 18, 2013 5:28 AM   Subscribe

Last summer, the General Convention of the Episcopal Church approved a measure affirming the right of transgendered members to be eligible for both lay and ordained ministry. Before the vote, pioneering Episcopal LGBT group Integrity USA distributed copies of "Voices of Witness: Out of the Box" to Convention delegates. The short video profiles several transgender Episcopalians, including clergy, as well as cisgender supporters. In other Episcopal LGBT news, the Dean of the National Cathedral in Washington DC announced last week that the Cathedral would begin celebrating same-sex weddings effective immediately.
posted by Biblio (55 comments total) 13 users marked this as a favorite

 
Yay Episcopalians!
posted by Blasdelb at 5:38 AM on January 18, 2013 [6 favorites]


My parents are Christians and I am an atheist. They have just joined the Episcopal church and love it. I'm so happy they are part of this denomination. I can also actually tolerate going to church with them when my mom occasionally asks me to.
posted by persephone's rant at 5:43 AM on January 18, 2013 [3 favorites]


The Episcopal Church never fails to warm this cynical atheist's heart. I know it's not just them, but they're a good reminder that some Christians really are invested in fighting the good fight.
posted by gilrain at 5:45 AM on January 18, 2013 [9 favorites]


I left the Catholic church almost a decade ago and found a new home in the Episcopal Church. I was at the Convention and heartbroken when the Pittsburgh Diocese split in half over how LGBT people will fit into the church.

The churches that left spun it as an issue of allowing local chuches to make their own decisions, but coming from the South it just sounded so similar to the "States Rights" argument. If you think about the kinds of things Jesus did, there was a lot of hanging out with and including marginalized people, and not so much kicking people out of the clubhouse.

I feel very fortunate that my church ended up sticking with the side that is in favor of including more people, because that was not a decision made by any one person. I feel like I'm in the right place.
posted by Alison at 5:50 AM on January 18, 2013 [4 favorites]


Well done, church of my youth! I don't attend currently but I still have great affection for the EC though I am sad some members of my family left the church over this issue.
I hope their hearts will be opened because I have trouble understanding how anyone could read that announcement and not feel anything but great joy.
posted by pointystick at 6:02 AM on January 18, 2013 [1 favorite]


The Episcopal Church got a lot better when it decided to just let people split off when they disagreed.

"Don't like gay bishops? Fine. Don't have any in your Not Episcopal Diocese. Buh-bye."
posted by Etrigan at 6:09 AM on January 18, 2013 [2 favorites]


Absolutely beautiful.
posted by ArmyOfKittens at 6:12 AM on January 18, 2013 [2 favorites]


I don't really understand why this was ever an issue. But at least they made the right decision.
posted by Dysk at 6:22 AM on January 18, 2013


The Episcopal Church got a lot better when it decided to just let people split off when they disagreed.

I know, jeez, who needed those damn Congregationalists and Wesleyans anyway?

Don't like gay bishops? Fine. Don't have any in your Not Episcopal Diocese. Buh-bye.

Um, doesn't having Bishops and Diocese by definition make a church "Episcopal"? Maybe you mean, "[d]on't have any in your Not 'Episcopal Church' diocese?"
posted by The 10th Regiment of Foot at 6:22 AM on January 18, 2013


The Episcopal Church got a lot better when it decided to just let people split off when they disagreed.

I know, jeez, who needed those damn Congregationalists and Wesleyans anyway?


Well, yes. Exactly.

And there was a long period of time throughout most of the 20th Century when the Episcopal (and similar) churches would bend over backwards to avoid such schisms, taking pains either not to address issues or to adopt mealy-mouthed pseudo-policies that satisfied neither the progressive nor conservative sides of the arguments. Then they just sort of made up their minds to not give a damn anymore, and it seems like everyone's happier.

(sorry for the edit -- this didn't get copy-pasted right)

Um, doesn't having Bishops and Diocese by definition make a church "Episcopal"?

No, it makes it "episcopal."
posted by Etrigan at 6:29 AM on January 18, 2013


The Episcopal Church got a lot better when it decided to just let people split off when they disagreed.

"Don't like gay bishops? Fine. Don't have any in your Not Episcopal Diocese. Buh-bye."


Oh, and find somewhere else to meet, too, because the building and the property it sits on belong to the diocese.
posted by one more dead town's last parade at 6:38 AM on January 18, 2013


Um, doesn't having Bishops and Diocese by definition make a church "Episcopal"? Maybe you mean, "[d]on't have any in your Not 'Episcopal Church' diocese?"

The conservative fork of the church calls themselves Anglican Church in North America and are aligned with churches in Nigeria, Uganda, and Sudan.
posted by octothorpe at 6:41 AM on January 18, 2013


The conservative fork of the church

Those would be the conservative folk formerly of The Church, but still trying to be part of The Communion. Of course though, if you're an Episcopalian, every Christian is part of The Church.
posted by The 10th Regiment of Foot at 6:47 AM on January 18, 2013 [1 favorite]


Yay! I was thinking about posting this- a friend of mine is on track to be a trans minister in the Episcopalian church, and she was really involved in this effort.
posted by showbiz_liz at 6:48 AM on January 18, 2013


I love the Episcopal Church.
posted by shakespeherian at 6:51 AM on January 18, 2013


The conservative fork of the church calls themselves Anglican Church in North America and are aligned with churches in Nigeria, Uganda, and Sudan.

Well, some of them. There's actually a lot of schisming within the schismers. Some are ACNA, some are independent, and one whole diocese is just floating free.
posted by Maecenas at 6:51 AM on January 18, 2013


The conservative fork of the church calls themselves Anglican Church in North America

This bothers me to no end, because they're claiming Canada, which already has an Anglican Church predating them by centuries.
posted by one more dead town's last parade at 7:03 AM on January 18, 2013 [1 favorite]


My (single-church) experience with the ACNA was pretty interesting, if you can get past the We Copied Everything We Do From Liberals But We Are Conservative And It's Kind Of Confusing bit, because there's a decent amount of charismatic influence there (occasional banner-waving-in-the-aisles, worship song marathons where the chorus repeats dozens of times and people start dancing everywhere, a handful of folks speaking in tongues) to go along with all of the high church trappings. I would love to read something about that weird confluence.
posted by shakespeherian at 7:08 AM on January 18, 2013


Full disclosure: my dad's a priest.

Fuller and funny disclosure: He's semi-retired to a tiny church in an equally tiny, rural hamlet. He's got the whole congregation worked up in favor of full rights for gay would-be congregants. They even brought in an openly lesbian young priest to fill in while he went on vacation. Now he and the parishoners are geared up to perform the first same sex wedding ceremony in the diocese, regardless of what the Communion says. The trouble is, no gay couples want to get married in the tiny and not terribly picturesque town. So, if any Episcopalian same-sex couples want to have a legal and sacremental wedding ceremony and don't really care what the town looks like, you should give him a call!

This bothers me to no end, because they're claiming Canada, which already has an Anglican Church predating them by centuries.

The first Anglican church in North America was at Jamestown, Virginia.
posted by The 10th Regiment of Foot at 7:11 AM on January 18, 2013 [21 favorites]


I am picturing about 100 people holding little rainbow flags, poised to wave them jubilantly at any moment if only someone would just show up.
posted by elizardbits at 7:16 AM on January 18, 2013 [12 favorites]


Srsly, 10th Regiment, your dad should send a press release to all the GLBTQI newspapers/news sites in 100 miles' radius. His town's florists and caterers will thank him.
posted by Sidhedevil at 7:25 AM on January 18, 2013 [2 favorites]


Also I love my church. Thanks, church, for not being jerks. Need to get better so I can do your good soup kitchen again.
posted by Sidhedevil at 7:26 AM on January 18, 2013 [1 favorite]


I am writing this from my office in a small Episcopal church where I am Director of Education. I posted this in part because I am incredibly proud of my denomination, but also because I wanted to share the video with people who only see the hurtful side of religion in our world. That video packs a lot of joy into it. I wanted to go to church with everybody in it.
posted by Biblio at 8:20 AM on January 18, 2013 [2 favorites]


your dad should send a press release to all the GLBTQI newspapers/news sites in 100 miles' radius

Sadly, I think someone's already stolen his thunder with a better offer!
posted by The 10th Regiment of Foot at 8:27 AM on January 18, 2013


I've been really upset at the Church of England for their sexism and homophobia, because I expected better, and I realized why: I was mixing them up with the Episcopalians and the Anglican Church of Canada, who've been much more progressive.

To the CofE: this is how it is done.
posted by jb at 8:45 AM on January 18, 2013 [2 favorites]


he Episcopal Church got a lot better when it decided to just let people split off when they disagreed.

"Don't like gay bishop? Fine. Don't have any in your Not Episcopal Diocese. Buh-bye."


Except that that's not what they've said. Rather, it's been, "Don't like gay bishopss? Fine. You're not a diocese (or you're not a parish) and we're suing in civil court to keep the buildings your family (or congregation) has worshiped in for 1,2, ... 10 generations. Also, the money from gram's life insurance that she left to the church, also the communion cups donated by your great-uncle."
posted by Jahaza at 8:57 AM on January 18, 2013


It is difficult to sympathize with people who are upset that they can no longer officially discriminate against people like they used to.
posted by elizardbits at 9:04 AM on January 18, 2013 [9 favorites]


I see no problem with the church keeping their own property. And they're not preventing anyone from worshiping there. The opposite, in fact -- it's the people being "forced" to leave who have a problem with anyone worshiping (or probably rather, teaching) there.

And further, since when are there backsies on money and property freely given? Was there some anti-LGBTQ language in grandma's will, or something?
posted by gilrain at 9:07 AM on January 18, 2013 [3 favorites]


Except that that's not what they've said. Rather, it's been, "Don't like gay bishopss? Fine. You're not a diocese (or you're not a parish) and we're suing in civil court to keep the buildings your family (or congregation) has worshiped in for 1,2, ... 10 generations. Also, the money from gram's life insurance that she left to the church, also the communion cups donated by your great-uncle."

Right - but that's not a clear issue and, again, this is a recent development when it comes to the Episcopal Church - the fact that their FIGHTING over property and, in reality, not letting schismatics go. Due to the how the Episcopal church incorporated itself after the American Revolution, the question of property/building/tax-status/etc are, slightly, up in the air. This is why the South Carolina (I think) bishop got in trouble for being willing to had over the deeds of church buildings/not fight those deeds to schismatics who wanted to leave the communion. Within this argument over GLBT clergy is also a fight over the definition of what the church community actually is - and its an argument that also is tied to the history of high church/low church aspects within the Episcopal church. A high church/anglo-catholic hierarchy has a much different perspective on the nature of the community of churches than a low church one. And that, it many ways, is the issue that compounds the question of GLBT clergy in Episcopalian ecclesiology. It's a question of who defines the leadership of the community. It's a question of power/authority along the question of equality/human rights.

And, as nice as this is to see, the question of equality in the Episcopal church isn't solid or set in stone. The reality is that the bishops set the tone of the diocese. There are dioceses who are still fighting over the issue of women's ordination (even though the presiding bishop is a woman). It's wonderful to see this movement - but the Episcopal church still has a lot of hurdles to overcome as it expresses its flavor of clerical identity, apostolic succession, and church governance.
posted by Stynxno at 9:13 AM on January 18, 2013


"Don't like gay bishop? Fine. Don't have any in your Not Episcopal Diocese. Buh-bye."

Except that that's not what they've said. Rather, it's been, "Don't like gay bishopss? Fine. You're not a diocese (or you're not a parish) and we're suing in civil court to keep the buildings your family (or congregation) has worshiped in for 1,2, ... 10 generations. Also, the money from gram's life insurance that she left to the church, also the communion cups donated by your great-uncle."


I fail to see the difference. If I dislike the rules my city council puts into place and demand the right to be in a city without those rules, then I can't be upset when my city says, "Fine, go incorporate your neighborhood. But you don't get to use our libraries and schools and public safety fleets."
posted by Etrigan at 9:19 AM on January 18, 2013


Except that that's not what they've said. Rather, it's been, "Don't like gay bishopss? Fine. You're not a diocese (or you're not a parish) and we're suing in civil court to keep the buildings your family (or congregation) has worshiped in for 1,2, ... 10 generations. Also, the money from gram's life insurance that she left to the church, also the communion cups donated by your great-uncle."

Perhaps if the previous generations had wanted to be Congregationalists they shouldn't have given their time and treasure to the Episcopal Church.
posted by The 10th Regiment of Foot at 9:20 AM on January 18, 2013 [2 favorites]


I mean, imagine if a subset of Episcopal congregations were suddenly like 'Hey we're still Episcopal but also we don't let women into church, that's cool right?' and the Episcopal Church was like 'uh, you can do that, it's cool and all, but we're going to use our property for actual Episcopal stuff and you're kinda out of the club because that's fucked up.'
posted by shakespeherian at 9:36 AM on January 18, 2013 [2 favorites]


"Except that that's not what they've said. Rather, it's been, "Don't like gay bishopss? Fine. You're not a diocese (or you're not a parish) and we're suing in civil court to keep the buildings your family (or congregation) has worshiped in for 1,2, ... 10 generations. Also, the money from gram's life insurance that she left to the church, also the communion cups donated by your great-uncle."

As various congregations and groups thereof have disaffiliated themselves from the Church, that is left the Church of their own accord, to discriminate against Episcopalians in all of the horrible ways they wanted to, they knew that the buildings they worshiped in and the things they gave to Christ did not belong to them but to the Church, which they were abandoning.
posted by Blasdelb at 9:38 AM on January 18, 2013 [1 favorite]


My parents are Christians and I am an atheist. They have just joined the Episcopal church and love it. I'm so happy they are part of this denomination. I can also actually tolerate going to church with them when my mom occasionally asks me to.
posted by persephone's rant at 5:43 AM on January 18 [3 favorites +] [!]


The Episcopal Church never fails to warm this cynical atheist's heart. I know it's not just them, but they're a good reminder that some Christians really are invested in fighting the good fight.
posted by gilrain at 5:45 AM on January 18 [7 favorites +] [!]


So God agrees with 21st century American liberal atheists on all social issues? What a coincidence.
posted by ILuvMath at 9:47 AM on January 18, 2013


> So God agrees with 21st century American liberal atheists on all social issues?

You may have missed that neither of us believe in God. The "good fight" I was talking about has nothing to do with God.
posted by gilrain at 9:51 AM on January 18, 2013 [2 favorites]


So God agrees with 21st century American liberal atheists on all social issues? What a coincidence.

I am of the opinion that God likes people more than corporations and institutions, yes.
posted by shakespeherian at 10:00 AM on January 18, 2013 [4 favorites]


I am hesitant to get on the bandwagon of letting Episcopal dioceses and parishes split off. I think that in the long run more good will come about from trying to bring this spirit to all parishes and dioceses rather than letting them split and do their thing. I think this latter attitude would permit the more conservative branches to resist change.

Perhaps my perspective is skewed because I have grown up in a Episcopal parish in the South, right next to a diocese which split and I still am, technically speaking I think, a member of the Episcopal Church. I don't want to see a split, and I want to see us all march forward into the light and not let the other half wallow in darkness.

I like the similarly idealized notion during the Civil War, that, "the Constitution, in all its provisions, looks to an indestructible Union, composed of indestructible States."
posted by SollosQ at 10:13 AM on January 18, 2013


I am hesitant to get on the bandwagon of letting Episcopal dioceses and parishes split off. I think that in the long run more good will come about from trying to bring this spirit to all parishes and dioceses rather than letting them split and do their thing. I think this latter attitude would permit the more conservative branches to resist change.

I used to feel the same way, but then I realized a couple of things that changed my philosophy on it:

1 -- Moving churches is really easy. Don't like what the Episcopals are doing about the gays? Fine. Start going to (or start) the Anglican Church of North America.

2 -- If you wait for everyone (or a majority, or a plurality, or a supermajority, or whatever it would take) to come around, that's a lot of gay priests who aren't ever going to become bishops, or transgendered divinity students who are going to do something else and maybe never come back to being priests. You lose a generation of people while you're waiting for the old generation to die off or soften up.
posted by Etrigan at 10:17 AM on January 18, 2013 [1 favorite]


I like the similarly idealized notion during the Civil War, that, "the Constitution, in all its provisions, looks to an indestructible Union, composed of indestructible States."

Interestingly, your southern parish didn't share that view during that time period.
posted by The 10th Regiment of Foot at 10:20 AM on January 18, 2013 [1 favorite]


You may have missed that neither of us believe in God.

I did not miss this. In fact, it was precisely my point that neither of you believe in God. It's more evidence that the Episcopal Church is becoming more atheist than Christian.


The "good fight" I was talking about has nothing to do with God.

It definitely seems like they're doing this for reasons that have "nothing to do with God."
posted by ILuvMath at 10:52 AM on January 18, 2013


It's more evidence that the Episcopal Church is becoming more atheist than Christian.

My genderqueer Episcopal friend might argue with you about that.
posted by immlass at 11:01 AM on January 18, 2013 [2 favorites]


It's more evidence that the Episcopal Church is becoming more atheist than Christian.

Perhaps you care to explain. What exactly is not Christ-like about accepting the inalienable worth of all God's creations?
posted by The 10th Regiment of Foot at 11:01 AM on January 18, 2013 [6 favorites]


In fact, it was precisely my point that neither of you believe in God. It's more evidence that the Episcopal Church is becoming more atheist than Christian.

"Appreciated by atheists" is not the same thing as "atheist."

Also, God and His son's issues with LGBT people are not nearly as cut-and-dried as you appear to believe. I won't bother trying to convince you, because you've clearly made up your mind.
posted by Etrigan at 11:08 AM on January 18, 2013 [3 favorites]


It's more evidence that the Episcopal Church is becoming more atheist than Christian.

Nothing particularly "atheist" about welcoming everybody. If you think about it maybe you can think of where that concept came from in western culture...scraggly guy, beard, inviting randos to dine and washing sick people's feet...ring a bell? It's just a shame that most people identify loving your neighbors more with being an atheist instead of being Christian. Hopefully stuff like this post will help correct that lopsided impression.

Big Up Fellow Episco-pals!
posted by Potomac Avenue at 11:10 AM on January 18, 2013 [1 favorite]


Unless the Episcopal Church agrees with me that Jesus, if he existed, was not the son of God, and indeed that God does not exist at all, then I am entirely confident that Episcopalians are still Christians rather than atheists.

I don't think that having relatively liberal or conservative views on social issues is a primary marker of either atheists or Christians. In each group, there are a wide range of individual beliefs.
posted by gilrain at 11:10 AM on January 18, 2013 [1 favorite]


It's more evidence that the Episcopal Church is becoming more atheist than Christian.

This is precisely why the new narrative of 20th century reactionary Christian fundamentalism is so insanely frustrating to traditional American protestants. The reality is so entirely unlike the straw-man Dawkins and Harris and others have set up. To the point that it has been completely usurped by people who claim to be Christians based solely on their conservative social agenda vs. atheists reacting against these claims.

No, there is nothing particularly unique or special about Episcopalians or Western protestants embracing a progressive social agenda. For many of us, the Bible represents a progressive call to arms. The false amazement, wide-eyed and blinking, from secular humanists and atheists, at this reality, is infuriating and demeaning.
Incidentally, this is also why I believe it is counterproductive for progressive Christians to describe themselves as such. In other words, to be the Christians that feel any need whatsoever to qualify their beliefs or their public positions in light of such beliefs - despite the currency of the Not-All-Like-That type movements.

God preserve me for the day when the public response to Episcopalians acting in a progressive, inviting, and fundamentally Christian fashion is simply, "Good. That's why we like having those Christians around."
posted by Baby_Balrog at 11:21 AM on January 18, 2013 [9 favorites]


Rather, it's been, "Don't like gay bishopss? Fine. You're not a diocese (or you're not a parish) and we're suing in civil court to keep the buildings your family (or congregation) has worshiped in for 1,2, ... 10 generations. Also, the money from gram's life insurance that she left to the church, also the communion cups donated by your great-uncle."

Which is only an issue if you know for certain that your gram would have disapproved of the church's admitting transgender clergy.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 12:04 PM on January 18, 2013 [1 favorite]


I think better of my gram than that.
posted by shakespeherian at 12:15 PM on January 18, 2013 [1 favorite]


YES. YAYYAYYAY.

The pastor of my old congregation is in that film, she's Carla Robinson. And she's an incredible pastor. She has also been amazing in other ways, and had a really positive impact on my life.

She also has a blog, it's here: Rain and Clouds.
posted by spinifex23 at 12:17 PM on January 18, 2013


The Episcopal Church USA has never done anything in violation of Jesus's teachings about homosexuality or gender variance.

Because there weren't any. Now we can chop logic about what Paul meant by arsenokoites and whether they were to be disciplined more than "the rageful" but bottom line it's Christianity, not Paulianity.

At least in my church. If you want a church where people care more about policing other people's love lives than doing good in the world and being inspired by the message of Christ, there are ample choices, so vote with your feet. The rest of us have voted with our votes already, and y'all lost.
posted by Sidhedevil at 1:00 PM on January 18, 2013 [2 favorites]


I mean even if you're like NO IT IS A SIN, FULL STOP it's not like sinners of other varieties are not allowed to be ordained.
posted by shakespeherian at 1:07 PM on January 18, 2013


I find that the "gay marriage is a bridge too far!" folks need to read more 19th century novels, where they'll find clergy and communicants of the Episcopal and Anglican churches passionately debating questions like "should clergymen be allowed to marry again if their first wife dies?" and no I am not joking.
posted by Sidhedevil at 1:12 PM on January 18, 2013


it's not like sinners of other varieties are not allowed to be ordained

In this instance it's not even that contraversial. They allow both men and women to be ordained, why would they then forbid someone who switches between them? It says nothing about those people's sexual preferences or "sinful" behavior.
posted by The 10th Regiment of Foot at 1:14 PM on January 18, 2013 [1 favorite]


"Because there weren't any. Now we can chop logic about what Paul meant by arsenokoites and whether they were to be disciplined more than "the rageful" but bottom line it's Christianity, not Paulianity."

Incidentally, if this is something that interests you I did this pretty thoroughly in a previous thread.
posted by Blasdelb at 1:46 PM on January 18, 2013 [2 favorites]


Perhaps the best moment during my recent tenure as a Sr. Warden at an Episcopal church was our selection and installation of a new Priest as Associate Rector. The fact that he is openly gay isn't why we hired him. It is that he is an excellent priest who has the skills we were looking for and fits in well with our congregation.
posted by grimjeer at 5:24 PM on January 18, 2013


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