Transgender man appointed as associate pastor at church in Britain

(Reuters/Hannah McKay)A priest wears a rainbow ribbon during a vigil against Anglican Homophobia, outside the General Synod of the Church of England in London, Britain, February 15, 2017.

A transgender man, who identifies as neither exclusively male nor female, has been appointed as the new associate pastor of a church in Britain.

Rev. Peta Evans, who identifies as non-binary, has been chosen to serve as the associate pastor of Village Metropolitan Community Church (MCC) in the Portslade area of Brighton, Premier reported.

"Returning to Brighton, I am excited to serve again in the community which first welcomed me and supported me in both my ministry journey and my gender transition," said the new associate pastor.

The church, which is led by senior pastor Rev. Michael Hydes, describes itself as "a Christ inspired community that celebrates diversity and embraces relational faith," which it defines as a "faith that relates to the world around us with love, acceptance and openness. Respecting all people, animals and nature as part of God's diverse creation."

Evans, who once worked as a care worker and a tailor, attended the Village MCC between 2003 and 2010 but left the church to train as a clergy intern in north London.

"I'm looking forward to working with Rev Peta. Their rootedness in Celtic Christianity and experience working in the Trans communities are just two of the many gifts they bring to their work," said Hydes.

Evans said that she is "enthusiastic about reclaiming the Bible from those who have tried to make it a weapon against those who are different," and she is launching a campaign for transgender individuals called "ReTranslation" so that they could read the scriptures for themselves "without past interpretations getting in the way."

Metropolitan Community Churches, founded in the U.S. in 1968, claims to be the first denomination to perform same-sex marriages and has been campaigning heavily in support of such unions in the U.S. and other countries.

In the U.S., the Northern Illinois Conference of the United Methodist Church (UMC) has also appointed a non-binary transgender person to serve in the position of provisional deacon.

The Northern Illinois Conference became one of a few regional bodies within the UMC to openly defy the denomination's stance against the ordination of openly LGBT clergy when it appointed M. Barclay, who was born Mary Ann Kaiser, as a provisional deacon in June.

Barclay, who serves as director of communications for the pro-LGBT advocacy group Reconciling Ministries Network, first gained headlines in 2013 when she was denied clergy candidacy by the Board of Ordained Ministry (BOOM) for Southwest Texas Annual Conference for being involved in a same-sex relationship.

The Rev. John Bell, chair of the Northern Illinois BOOM, said that they wanted to follow the example of other Conferences. But in late April, UMC's highest court, the Judicial Council, ruled against the Conferences, stating that BOOM should consider all standards for clergy candidates, including sexual behavior.

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