Grace, Pine Bluff

There’s lots of misinformation floating around out there about the diocese’s response to a priest announcing that that priest is transgender. To be clear, the Episcopal Diocese of Arkansas has NOT severed ties with the priest. Our prayers and support are with the priest during this time.

Here’s the word straight from Bishop Benfield:

A Letter from Bishop Benfield

Grace Church in Pine Bluff was the setting this past week for the announcement by its priest-in-charge that the priest is transgender. To be transgender is to identify with a gender that is different from the sex assigned at a person’s birth. It was the first time in this diocese that a priest currently working in a congregation has made such an announcement, and it reflects the increased attention that the issue is receiving in our culture.

After a week of serious conversations with the people involved, I decided that the long-term wellbeing of the priest as well as that of the congregation is best served by dissolving their pastoral relationship. This move will allow the priest to work on transitioning and begin a new life that will be lived with authenticity. It also allows the congregation to focus on the work that we have in every congregation: to restore all people to unity with God and one another in Christ.

I hope that we never reduce the struggles that we all face in our lives to snap judgments that are best suited to sound bites, just as I hope that we do not make decisions based on fear of the unknown. We read in the Bible that perfect love casts out fear, and I remain convinced that as we learn to love one another without fear, we will come to understand that seeing the resurrected Christ in one another will change our lives for the better and make visible the kingdom of God in our midst.

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