United Methodist Church appoints first transgender deacon

The United Methodist Church has ordained a non-binary trans deacon.

On Sunday (4 June) M Barclay was commissioned by Bishop Sally Dyck at the Northern Illinois Conference.

Barclay, who identifies as neither male nor female and uses they as their pronoun, worked 12 years to achieve this.

They are the first non-binary trans member of the United Methodist Church to become a member of the clergy.

But while bishop Dyck made sure everything reflected the newest deacon’s identity, including the ordination, others have not been so welcoming.

Barclay grew up in a conservative community in Pensacola, Florida, and told the Washington Post they identified as a straight woman when they made the decision to enter ministry.

In 2005, they started at Austin Presbyterian Theological Seminary in Texas.

After about a year of reading theology, including feminist and queer theology, Barclay realized they were not straight and they came out as lesbian.

They struggled with whether they should stay in the church, Barclay told the Washington Post, because of ‘how much harm the church had done, not only to LGBT people but to all marginalized people’.

It just dawned on me last night that I’ll be the first openly trans deacon in The #UMC later today. 0_0 #calledOUThttps://t.co/vjFUPNqnZ7

— M (@mxbarclay) June 4, 2017

Following seminary Barclay worked as the youth director at a United Methodist church in Austin, where they gave sermons and continued to participate in worship.

And they realized they still wanted to be ordained.

In 2012, they decided to pursue ordination in Texas.

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