RE-APPOINTED – AS A MAN
'Who am I? I AM…'
minister says after sex change procedure
Posted: May 26,
1:00 a.m. Eastern
A woman who has served as minister at St. John's United Methodist
Church in Baltimore
for five years has been re-appointed to the position – as a man, according to church officials.
The announcement came at the Baltimore-Washington annual conference of the UMC,
where the former Ann Gordon announced the change to Drew Phoenix, and talked of a "spiritual transformation" since the sex
The move was not without challenge. Some ministers asked for a "ruling of law,"
a move which automatically takes the issue to the church organization's highest court, the Judicial Council, which will be
meeting next in October.
The church denomination "officially" disapproves of homosexual behavior, but
has no explicit policy regarding sexual identity changes or sex change operations, officials said. Gordon/Phoenix' congregation
is among those that support what the members call the "reconciling" movement within the church, and campaigns to reject the
church's traditional biblical teachings on marriage and sexual ethics.
Mark Tooley, director of the UMAction, a part of the Institution on Religion
and Democracy, said gender, however, isn't a choice but a reality. "The church's calling is to facilitate healing, not echo
the secular culture's mantras about 'diversity,'" he said.
The church's website notes that the group is inclusive and diverse.
"We embrace our differences as holy expressions of God's inclusive love for all
creation. Our diversity reflects the many facets of God's creation in our age, gender identity, sexual orientation, race,
ethnic and cultural backgrounds, socioeconomic status, work and educational experience, physical and mental abilities, and
spiritual needs," the statement said. "Different though we are, we share a faith in a creative Spirit that urges us toward
maturity, wisdom, responsibility."
Tooley said the decision announced by Bishop John Schol should trigger a full
evaluation of the Bible's teachings. "UM Action is calling for legislation at the 2008 General Conference of The United Methodist
Church to fully address the issue of sexual identity change," he said. "The decision to reappoint the former Rev. Gordon to
St. John's church in Baltimore,
with no wider discussion in the church, sets a troubling precedent."
He said it's happening again that the "liberal church elites, presiding over
dwindling churches, are making decisions without regard for historic Christian teaching or a wider consensus among the church's
The issue raises all sorts of questions that have to be answered, Tooley noted.
Even a report on a Baltimore radio station identified the
minister as 'his/her former name was Ann Gordon…"
"We hope The United Methodist Church will act, where the leadership of the Baltimore-Washington
Conference has failed, by establishing clear ethical and theological guidelines about the role of gender..." Tooley said.
He explained that the sex change case is a modern repetition of an ancient heresy,
gnosticism, in which one's private feelings and thoughts overrule church teachings.
In a statement on the conference website, Gordon/Phoenix explained that the change
was to reflect "my true gender identity."
"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.
"The gender I was assigned at birth has never matched my own true, authentic,
God-given gender identity … how I know myself," the statement said. "Fortunately, today, God's gift of medical science
is enabling me to bring my physical body into alignment with my true gender."
But Tooley said Christianity "rejects the suggestion that sexual identity is
merely a state of mind or a preference."
"Gender and physicality, in Christian and Jewish teaching, are intrinsically
linked to God's order of creation, as first described in Genesis," he said. "The God whom we worship knew us as male or female
before He created us. Gender is not a choice but a reality."
The IRD said the last such case to come up was in 2002. That was when Rev. Richard
Simoztny had a sex change operation and became Rebecca Steen. That minister soon left the ministry in the UMC.
It's the second controversy to come out of the UMC in just a little over a week.
Earlier, as WND reported, one leader in the UMC equated the U.S.
flag to the Nazi swastika.
The comments came from Rev. Clayton Childers, of the Washington-based United
Methodist Board of Church and Society, who said, "The presence of a national flag in worship can imply endorsement of national
policies which often run counter to the teachings of Jesus Christ and our Christian faith. … One need only recall the
way the swastika flag was displayed prominently in German churches during the Nazi era."
He was discussing on the organization's website the propriety of having Old Glory
in Christian churches, but his condemnation drew the ire of Tooley.
"Unlike the blood-soaked swastika flags that the Nazis forced upon German churches,
American churches voluntarily display their country's flag as a reminder of the country in which God has providentially placed
them," Tooley said. "Typically, American flags stand against the side walls of American churches, quietly and [un]obtrusively.
They are hardly the idolatrous object of imperialistic worship against which the United Methodist lobby official warned."