On Sunday, the United Methodist Church made history. For the first time ever, the church commissioned a nonbinary trans person as a member of the clergy.
M Barclay went to seminary in Texas, where they read feminist and queer theology alongside other texts. M tried to join the clergy in 2012, when they identified as a lesbian in a same-gender relationship, but wasn’t approved. Later, M joined a more inclusive Methodist network in Chicago, came out as trans, and started on the path toward being ordained.
Barclay said they have received many messages from people opposed to their leadership in the church because of their gender identity. But Barclay has also heard from LGBT Christians, from the parents of LGBT youth and from supportive churches that seek Barclay’s input about a theology that embraces Christian teaching and queer inclusion.
“How do I theologically and scripturally advocate for trans people? I’m invited a lot to preach on that question,” Barclay said.
Now, as a member of the clergy, Barclay will continue the ministry at Reconciling Ministries Network and will give more sermons and workshops at Methodist churches, with one noticeable change: Barclay will be wearing a collar. Most Methodist clergy don’t wear their collar every day, but Barclay wants to.
“I feel very called to do that,” they said. “A visibly trans person who is an extension of the church — queer and trans people need to see that. They need to see themselves reflected in the life of faith.”
The story is of course not as simple as this; the article linked above includes quotes from people who still oppose M’s participation in the clergy, as well as explanations of some of the other challenges LGBTQ Christians face. But M has achieved something big here, a well-deserved honor that they will undoubtedly use for good. Congratulations.
For all the sinners: Oscar Wilde quotes and baroque churches
“Sin is a thing that writes itself across a man’s face. It cannot be concealed. People talk sometimes of secret vices, there are no such things. If a wretched man has a vice, it shows itself in the lines of his mouth, the droop of his eyelids, the moulding of his hands even.” ― Oscar Wilde, The Picture of Dorian Gray
A man seen lying and praying on top of the tomb of Jesus Christ, as thousands of Orthodox Christian worshippers take part in the Holy Fire ceremony at the Church of the Holy Sepulchre, traditionally believed to be the burial site of Jesus Christ, in Jerusalem’s Old City during the Easter holiday. April 30, 2016. Photo by Hadas Parush