Until now, there has been just one openly transgender Methodist clergyman in the U.S. to retain his ordination (That man, Drew Phoenix, 50, had his ordination challenged by members of the church after coming out publicly in 2007 to his congregation in St. John’s of Baltimore United Methodist Church in Maryland.)
Today, Sunday, Aug. 30, Weekley — who leads the congregation at the Epworth United Methodist Church in the Sunnyside neighborhood in inner Southeast Portland — became the second.
Just months after telling his own children that he was not their biological father, Weekley, who is in his late-50s, came out to his congregation of 221 members.
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.
“It doesn’t change him; he’s still Reverend David, and that’s what counts,” says congregation member Robbie Tsuboi, who has been attending Epworth since 1964.
“I think it was a really, really positive reaction. From what I understand, it was 100 percent support within the church.”
Given the church’s stance on gay rights and its previous reaction to Phoenix’s revelation, Weekley hadn’t known what to expect. According to the Methodist “Book of Discipline,” performing a same-sex wedding, even in a state where it is legal, is an offense that could lead to discipline from Methodist church leaders.
Besides opposing the ordination of gay clergy, the Methodist church also will withhold church membership from anyone who is openly gay.
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