The United Methodist Church is raising brows after appointing its first transgender minister.

Rev. M. Barclay does not identify with either gender and prefers to be referred to by the pro-noun “they.”

Barclay spent 12 years studying theology and training to become a minister in the church. There were times when those years were filled with uncertainty and a crisis of faith. 

“I struggled with how much harm the church had done, not only to LGBT people but to other marginalized people. I wasn’t sure I wanted to be a part of that… My faith was still there. It was just really hard to imagine the church living out what I think God is trying to do in the world right now… I understand the rules of the church… But here’s the truth: I’m queer, and I’m called to this. I tried to walk way.”

The topic of LGBTQ clergy has been a source of heated debate in the Methodist church in recent years. Texas rejected Barclay’s request to become a deacon. 

It wasn’t until Barclay went to Chicago did she finally get appointed. 

The Methodist church is not the only place where transgender and queer ministers are popping up. The  First Baptist Church of Greenville opened its doors to LGBTQ ministers and weddings in 2015

First Baptist Greenville cut ties with the Southern Baptist convention in the early 1990s. It’s now a member of the Cooperative Baptist Fellowship.

However, the fellowship opposed the church’s decision.

“The foundation of a Christian sexual ethic is faithfulness in marriage between a man and a woman and celibacy in singleness,” the CBF said in a statement.

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