National Briefs

Posted on 01 Oct 2007 at 6:41pm
By Staff and Wire Reports

United Methodist council decides transgender pastor can retain his post

BERKELEY, California A council of the United Methodist Church has decided to allow a transgender minister to retain his job, but it stopped short of addressing whether a change of gender violates the denomination’s rules.

At a session over the weekend in San Francisco, the United Methodist Judicial Council considered whether to remove the Rev. Drew Phoenix from his post. The council allowed Phoenix to stay on the job, referring to a church policy stating that a clergyperson in good standing cannot be terminated unless there has been administrative or judicial action, according to the ruling, posted on the church’s Web site.

In a related ruling, the council said all name changes should be treated the same regardless of the reason.

Phoenix, who learned of the ruling Tuesday, Oct. 30, said he was “happily surprised.” Before undergoing surgery and hormone therapy, Phoenix spent five years as minister at St. John’s United Methodist Church in Baltimore as the Rev. Ann Gordon.

The United Methodist Church bars appointing “practicing” gay clergy and does not support same-sex unions. The issue of whether the church can have a transgender minister may yet be addressed by the church’s legislative body, which meets next spring in Fort Worth.

Ohio governor appoints woman to bench lauded as state’s first openly gay judge

DAYTON, Ohio A new Montgomery County judge appointed by Governor Ted Strickland is being called Ohio’s first openly gay judge. Former Dayton city commissioner Mary Wiseman replaces Common Pleas Court Judge John Kessler, who was scheduled to retire Wednesday, Oct. 31.

Officials with gay rights group Equality Ohio say Wiseman’s appointment makes state history. Wiseman, 45, says she’s proud if the gay community sees her as a role model and says she believes the rest of society can grow more comfortable about gays and lesbians in public office.

Churches hold rally to protest judge’s ruling overturning gay marriage ban

DES MOINES, Iowa About 1,200 people from local churches held a prayer rally to protest a judge’s ruling overturning the state’s ban on gay marriage and urged the Iowa Supreme Court to overturn the ruling.

The rally was held Sunday, Oct. 28, at the Maple Street Missionary Baptist Church, where people joined hands and sang in unison to the civil rights anthem “We Shall Overcome.”

Polk County District Judge Robert Hanson ruled on Aug. 31 that the state’s law that reads that marriage is only between a man and woman was unconstitutional and ordered the Polk County recorder to allow same-sex couples to marry. The next day, Hanson stayed his ruling while the case is appealed to the state Supreme Court. Only one couple was able to marry before Hanson suspended his ruling.
A final ruling could take up to two years.

Louisiana church announces plans to withdraw from Presbyterian Church (USA)

BATON ROUGE, La. Baton Rouge’s First Presbyterian Church announced in an e-mail Sunday, Oct. 28, that its members had voted 425-61 to end a 25-year association with the Presbyterian Church (USA).

The next step is to request alignment with the much smaller Evangelical Presbyterian Church.

The Evangelical Presbyterian Church is a denomination of about 180 congregations and 75,000 members as compared with the 2.3 million members and 11,000 churches of Presbyterian Church (USA). The smaller denomination is viewed as more conservative.

The Baton Rouge congregation becomes the latest across the country to leave the larger group over whether the traditional biblical view condemning gay relationships should stand.

This article appeared in the Dallas Voice print edition November 2, 2007

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