Methodist Church Appoints First Transgender Deacon

By A P Monblat (Own work) [CC BY-SA 3.0], via Wikimedia Commons
By A P Monblat (Own work) [CC BY-SA 3.0], via Wikimedia Commons
After a struggle of nearly 12 years, Rev. M. Barclay finally finds a place among the clergy of the Methodist Church.

A newly appointed deacon by the Methodist Church is a transgender who neither identifies as male nor female[/tweetit]. Identifying with neither genders, M. Barclay goes by the pronoun "they," and is finally reaping the efforts of 12 years of struggles. Although the Methodist Church has been welcoming to members of the LGBTQ, this is the first time a transgender has been ordained a deacon.

Methodist Church Appoints First Transgender Deacon[/tweetthis]

When ‘they’ started out on their pastoral path, Barclay believed they were just like any other straight woman. It was only when they studied feminist and queer theology at Austin Presbyterian Theological Seminary in Texas in 2005 that they thought they were not straight after all. They later began identifying as a lesbian. This was a time of inner struggle for Barclay, as they found it hard to reconcile the teachings of their church with what they believed in. Deeply moved by “how much harm the church had done, not only to LGBT people but to other marginalized people,” and considered leaving the Church at first. Eventually, they decided to stay, realizing that in a pastoral role in the Church they had the potential to a lot more good for the LGBTQ than otherwise.

After Barclay finished seminary studies and was appointed Youth Minister at a Methodist Church, they pursued ordination into the ministry. As they were in a relationship with a woman at that time, Barclay thought they had absolutely no chance of getting into the ministry. However, to their surprise, they passed that round of interviews. They were turned down for an interview by the subsequent round, however. After a discussion involving around 400 clergy members, they got the interview but did not pass it.

From these rejections to now getting ordained as a deacon, the journey was no less than a roller coaster ride for Barclay. “Even until the day of the service on Sunday. ‘I was thinking, is somebody going to run into the room and find a way to put a stop to it?’” Barclay said.

Bishop Sally Dyck, who ordained Barclay, said of their journey, “To navigate the world as trans, queer, and a pastor means a great deal to me because I know personally how much religion has been and continues to be used for harm against LGBTQ and other marginalized populations.”


Follow the Conversation on Twitter