A transgender man can remain pastor of his Baltimore church, the United Methodist Church’s high court has determined. But the court sidestepped larger questions about whether gender change is acceptable for clergy in the denomination.
No law in the church’s Book of Discipline prohibits people who have undergone gender change from serving as clergy, the nine-member Judicial Council said October 30, so pastor Drew Phoenix, 48, cannot be removed from ministry without “administrative or judicial” action.
The ruling affirms Baltimore-Washington bishop John R. Schol’s decision to reappoint Phoenix, formerly Ann Gordon, after five years of service at St. John’s of Baltimore City.
The decision was quickly hailed by liberals as a historic achievement for transgender people and for the 8- million-member United Methodist Church.