NJ Transgender Pastor Celebrated in Renaming Service

Beeson’s was the first instance in Lutheran church history

Pastor Peter Beeson has been transitioning from a woman (Rose) since the summer of 2017. His new name was officially recognized on February 11 in St. Matthew Trinity Lutheran Church located in Hoboken, New Jersey. The renaming ceremony marked one of the few historic moments in church history. The church's parishioners were witness to the year long process.

The transition of Beeson marks the first time any minister of congregation in the Lutheran fold has transitioned from one gender to the another while continuously serving as the pastor. He is happily married with a lively toddler. He practices Kung-Fu or Tai Chi during his spare time. He also loves to build things. Beeson is a volunteer with the organization Rebuilding Together.

Reverend Tracie Bartholomew, the bishop of New Jersey congregation, first gave a sermon as part of Transfiguration Sunday. She then went on to hold the “renaming ceremony.” Post ceremony, Rose officially came to be known as Peter. Holy water was sprinkled on Beeson as the parishioners watched on. The water was taken from baptismal fountain present behind the church.

The local church community welcomed the development. Mark Singleton, 21, said that the renaming ceremony was a wonderful one and added that theirs were an inclusive community. Singleton was one of the committee members who asked Beeson to pastor the church in 2014. The latter was a IT professional before entering the Berkeley, California located Pacific Lutheran Seminary. The seminary was part of Graduate Theological Union known for its progressive views.

When Beeson was asked why he opted for the name “Peter,” he said that the apostle's name struck a chord with him. Both of them were persistent and their efforts paid off handsomely. For Beeson, he had always felt “queer” even during his childhood. He grew up as a woman in Arizona's Phoenix and Tucson. The church in that area was an Evangelical, conservative one. Peter, then Rose, had always been uncomfortable as a woman. He fought mentally with himself on issues of gender and sex from his teens until he entered his 20s. He saw two films- Southern Comfort and Boys Don't Cry– which had violent endings that scared him and pushed his wishes back.

Beeson serves on the Hoboken Shelter board, an organization created to end homelessness. Before that, he had served on two boards: Reconciling Works and Extraordinary Lutheran Ministries. Both these organizations affirm and also support LGBTQ individuals who want to enter the rostered ministry.

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