This is part 5 of a 5 part series sharing stories from RMN's recently published 2012 Annual Report.
- by Rev. Drew Pheonix -
Reconciling Ministries Network is my champion.
In 2007, when I came out publicly as a transgender United Methodist Pastor, under attack by the Institute on Religion and Democracy and a contingent of colleagues in my own Baltimore-Washington Conference, RMN was there to champion my good standing as a pastor of 21 years and guide me through the onslaught of judicial proceedings and media interviews. Without hesitation, hundreds of RMN pastors and laity, most of whom I had never met, encircled me with their spiritual and emotional support and lent me their professional expertise.
Reconciling Ministries Network is my source of information and inspiration.
During my very public transition, RMN provided guidance and
resources for me to use in educating my congregation about transgender people,
the challenges they face, and how to create a safer, more welcoming space.
Thanks to the Network, I was able to find a transgender lay person within my
conference who could lead a Trans 101 workshop for my congregation and answer
the kinds of questions they felt they could not ask me directly. I continually
look to the theologically inspiring writings in Flashnet, Katalyst, and the
worship and liturgical resources born out of Convocations to use in my ministry
with local congregations.
Reconciling Ministries Network is my family.
As a transgender person, it’s not easy to find a place at the table. We are continually relegated to the corners, disenfranchised from community. But this has never been the case with RMN. From the beginning, I have been welcomed and supported, seen and heard, and given a prominent place at the table, both as a participant in the Trans Extension Ministry and on the Board of Directors. Through RMN, I have found a home and an extended family where I am loved for, and loved into, my authentic self. And to me, that love is a manifestation of Christ’s heavenly banquet!
. . .
Drew Phoenix is an ordained elder in the Baltimore-Washington Conference of The United Methodist Church. He served as pastor for several congregations in Bethesda and Baltimore for 21 years before moving to Anchorage, Alaska to pursue ministry beyond the local church. In 2007, Drew became the first ordained minister in The United Methodist Church to come out publicly as transgender. Dedicated to educating others about transgender people and the issues they face, Drew contributed to the Human Rights Campaign (HRC) publication Gender Identity and Faith Communities, traveling widely throughout the United States to preach and facilitate workshops on the subject. He is a member of RMN’s Transgender Extension Ministry. Presently Drew serves as Managing Director of the ACLU of Alaska Foundation in Anchorage, Alaska, where he continues advocating on behalf of LGBT people. He co-founded Christians for Equality, a local ecumenical organization of laity and clergy who have been instrumental in attempting to provide equal protection for LGBT people in Anchorage in the areas of housing, employment and public accommodations.