A Most Unusual Methodist

Timothy Kincaid

September 1st, 2009

David Weekley is a bit unusual for a United Methodist Church pastor. For one thing, he’s a Caucasian pastor of a historic 95% Japanese-American congregation. And for another, he has for the past 27 years kept the secret that he was born female. (WestLinn Tidings)

Standing behind his pulpit, Weekley began his usual worship service. About halfway through, he paused to share a personal message he called “My Book Report.”

He told them that in 1984, just nine years after undergoing extensive sex-reassignment surgeries, he was ordained by the Methodist Church without telling anyone of his original gender at birth.

Following his story, the congregation, who had remained silent throughout his talk, broke into thunderous applause. Church members then proclaimed their support for their pastor.

Days may be difficult ahead for Weekley, as the UMC is one of the more conservative branches of mainline Christianity. But at present he has a supportive family, supportive congregation, and supportive region. And his testimony can perhaps reach hearts that already know and love him and serve to open eyes and expand thinking.

Craig L. Adams

September 1st, 2009

There is no basis in the UM Discipline for any action against him. Of course, that hasn’t stopped people in the past, but the fact that the news services have picked this up should help him. We now have 2 pastors like this who have been in the news. The other is named Drew Phoenix & he’s out east, and the church has taken no official action against him either. There IS a UM statement against same-gender sex. There is no official position or statement whatsoever on a case like this.

I’m not defending the UMC I’m just seeking to clarify. (And, I feel like I ought to post here every once in a while just to let you know that I do read your stuff & appreciate your reporting.)

Pomo

September 1st, 2009

I would hardly label the UMC conservative…

Timothy Kincaid

September 1st, 2009

Pomo,

True. None of the mainline Christian denominations could be accurately described as “conservative”, but it is more so than, say the UCC or Episcopal Church.

Regan DuCasse

September 2nd, 2009

This just goes to show that a person who has gone through the transition, or is in before or after mode, can be a compassionate, effective and contributing person.
I shouldn’t have to say it. No church should consider punishing someone for having that experience in their lives. Would they discriminate against anyone else for a medical issue that they had the good fortune to be able to do something about?
Are people obligated to disclose that condition?
If a church creates secrecy because disclosure would make that individual lose their church and community, then isn’t the church in particular doing the most uncharitable and unChristian thing?
I would think disclosure should only be a matter of individual choice and to help educate on it. And a church (or any other workplace or church group )shouldn’t make it any more than that either.

I’ve asked in more conservative journals how one’s gender isn’t neutral when it comes to virtue, abilities, intelligence and individual talent.

Of course, no one EVER answers.

Craig L. Adams

September 2nd, 2009

Regan’s remarks got me thinking…. Y’know if he had revealed this during the process leading up to ordination… or if he’d revealed this *prior* to coming to his present church… people very likely *would have tried to somehow block him, even though there is no disciplinary basis for it. There was a case several years ago of a male UM pastor who went on Leave of Absence from the ministry, and then, years later, wanted to come back into active ministry… but as a female. There was an outcry against her at that Annual Conference and, in that case, people *did find a way of blocking her! I seem to remember that her name was Rebecca Steen.

Craig L. Adams

September 2nd, 2009

Oh hey! I remembered correctly. Here’s a piece by conservative UM activist Mark Tooley on the Steen & Phoenix cases: http://spectator.org/archives/2007/05/25/gender-benders

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