Methodist transgender minister resigns

July 02, 2002|By John Rivera | John Rivera,SUN STAFF

A United Methodist minister who took a leave of absence to undergo a sex-change operation has resigned from the denomination rather than press for her reinstatement to ministry.

The Rev. Rebecca A. Steen, previously the Rev. Richard A. Zamostny, submitted her resignation in the opening minutes Friday of a church hearing on whether to reinstate her.

Zamostny, who had been a pastor in Thurmont and Rockville, took a voluntary leave of absence in October 1999 to undergo the sex-change operation.

Despite opposition by conservative Methodists, the Book of Discipline, which governs the church, has no provision prohibiting transgender clergy. Steen asked to return to active ministry, but her appointment was held up after a fellow minister filed a confidential complaint against her.

In a statement, Bishop Felton Edwin May said the complaint, which remains confidential, "did not concern Rev. Steen's gender reassignment, but issues of pastoral effectiveness prior to her voluntary leave of absence."

Church officials had gathered Friday to consider the complaint against Steen when she submitted her resignation.

May and other Baltimore-Washington Conference officials have called on the denomination to address the issue of transgender clergy at the next General Conference in 2004.

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