Transgendered in Church, Again.

I was moved by this story of the reception given to screening in a church hall of a documentary by an out, trans film maker about her experience and that of her family:

“This is the very first time our film has been in this community, ”  said Carol McKerrow, the mother of the three children portrayed in the movie. “In absolutely every way, the reception has been supportive and embracing and absolutely overwhelming.”

To understand the concerns one must understand the movie.  The screening of “Prodigal Sons“, directed and co-produced by Reed, follows a family of three children.

The oldest, Marc, suffered atraumatic injury in a car crash and has struggled ever since with mental illness. The youngest son, Paul, is gay while the middle child, formerly Pat McKerrow – a star quarterback for the 1975 Helena Bengal football team – returned to Helena as a woman after attending film school at the University of California Berkely.

What I found particularly pleasing, in addition to the making of the film itself, was that the supportive reaction came from a crowded gathering of church people, in a church hall, which could easily have been hostile. Read the full report at Helena Independent Record.

Meanwhile, reading the Transgender Seasonal Resource at Out in Season, I was impressed by the range of openly trans pastors and others in active ministry who contributed.  (You can read their reflections on the liturgical seasons, and some biographical stories, here).

They are:

Out In Season Writers

Monica Joy Cross is a minister at City of Refuge, United Church of Christ, in San Francisco. She is an African American transgender woman who lives her life and faith openly. Monica is also a Masters of Divinity student at Pacific School of Religion at Berkeley.

Rev. Sarah Carpenter is an ordained minister and transgender awareness trainer at the University of Vermont. She has two grown children and is separated from her spouse of 33 years. She resides in Burlington, Vermont.

Aidan Dunn is a member, musician, and lay preacher at the Metropolitan Community Church of San Francisco. He is a recent graduate of City College of San Francisco, and a current Religious Studies student at Stanford University. He has been involved in LGBT, intersex and transgender education and advocacy for the past ten years.

Rev. Elise Elrod is an ordained minister. She is pastor of Christ’s Community Church, UCC in Chicopee, MA. She and her spouse Joni are in their 40th year, legally married since 1970. They have three children and three grandchildren. She served two Southern Baptist churches, holds a Masters of Divinity degree and has obtained Privilege of Call in the United Church of Christ. She speaks in churches and universities concerning diversity and gender identity. Rev. Elise began her journey from presenting as male to presenting as herself in 1999.

Colleen Fay is a transgender woman still in her first year of living openly. She says, “It’s exciting, wonderful and scary all at the same time. The sense of God’s love expressed through the wonderful people that I meet sustains me at every minute.”

Jakob Hero is a clergy candidate with the Metropolitan Community Churches (MCC) and a student at the Graduate Theological Union in Berkeley. Jakob is on the MCC transgender resource team and is the editor of Gender Query: Cross-Cultural Identities, Expressions, and Embodiments.

Rev. Elijah Nealy is an out transman who serves as a pastor with Metropolitan Community Churches and a licensed social worker. He resides in New York City with his faithful dog, Jack.

Rev. Allyson Robinsonserved as senior pastor-teacher of Baptist churches in the U.S. and Europe for nine years before becoming associate director of diversity for transgender concerns at the Human Rights Campaign. She, her wife, and their four children live in Gaithersburg, Maryland.

Rev. Megan Rohrer is director of the Welcome Ministry for the homeless and hungry in San Francisco. Megan is the first openly transgender person ordained in the Lutheran church and is rostered by Extraordinary Lutheran Ministries.

Rev. Dr. Erin Swenson is an ordained minister in the Presbyterian Church in the United States. She also is the first known mainstream Protestant minister to transition from male to female while remaining in ordained office. Swenson continues to practice active ministry as a pastoral psychotherapist in Atlanta’s Midtown section, working primarily with individuals and families with gender identity issues. She is past Co-moderator of the National Board of More Light Presbyterians, has served as chair of the Health Ministries Committee and the Committee on Inclusion of the Presbytery of Greater Atlanta, and co-founded the Southern Association for Gender Education Inc. Swenson travels nationally presenting to conferences, churches, organizations, seminaries and universities.

Rev. S. David Wynn is currently the Interim Pastor for Agape Metropolitan Community Church in Fort Worth, Texas. He lives in Arlington, Texas with his wife Wren, his two year old son Seth, and their guinea pig Andy. David has also served for 12 years as an AIDS Chaplain, Director of Youth & Family Ministries, Program Manager, Associate Pastor, and Senior Pastor in parts Texas and Florida. He has a Masters of Theological Studies from Perkins School of Theology at Southern Methodist University, Dallas.

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