A Methodist preacher, who went on voluntary leave in 1999 to undergo an operation to become a woman, is set to become the country's first transsexual pastor assigned to a church. An assembly of Washington D.C.-area United Methodist clergy last night voted to accept Rebecca Steen's status as a minister "in good standing," "The Washington Times" reported. Steen was
formerly Richard Zomastny.

The precise vote count was not disclosed, but a spokesman revealed that several clergy raised "questions of law" during the four-hour session that may affect the final appointment. "I will consider these questions and rule on them as I am required to do by our Book of Discipline," Bishop Felton May said in a statement after the assembly, the "Times" reported. "I will report my rulings to a special clergy session this Saturday."

Jerald Walz, a conference attendee from Dunkirk, Md., said he was "not surprised at the decision." "I think there was a certain understanding that this was what would happen," added Walz, a lay churchgoer. "I'm saddened and disappointed at what seems to be the lack of moral fortitude in making a determination about the appointability of this clergyperson." If any minister challenges the bishop's interpretation of church law before or during the session tomorrow, a special trial could be called to decide Steen's fate.

by Pastor David Cloud, 7 June 2002

Way of Life