For the first time, an openly transgender priest is scheduled to preach at Candler School of Theology at Emory University. The Rev. Dr. Cameron Partridge, the Episcopal chaplain at Boston University, will be the guest preacher in the school’s chapel service on Tuesday, March 26. The service will be livestreamed on Candler’s website.
The service will kick off a week of programming organized by the student group Sacred Worth and aims to shine a light on transgender inclusion in churches and society.
The week—entitled “Trans*forming Christianity”—will culminate with a guest lecture by Allyson Robinson, a nationally known transgender activist and ordained Baptist minister, on Thursday, March 26.
“We are proud and excited to be welcoming two of the most prominent transgender faith leaders active in ministry today to Candler School of Theology,” says Zebulun Treloar-Reid, president of Sacred Worth.
Their witness and ministry made me realize that it was possible for transgender people to have full inclusion in the life of the Church. With all the confusion often expressed about gender identity, our hope is to share with current and future church leaders that transgender people are already in the church making a difference. Most importantly we want to convey that for transgender Christians, we believe that God created us and called us good with the rest of God’s creation.
Candler made national headlines in 2013 following student-led protests over the school’s decision to give a distinguished alumni award to a Methodist minister whose public and long-standing track record of upholding the United Methodist Church’s stance against same-sex marriage was viewed as “anti-gay.”
“We hope this week of programming focused on transgender inclusion this year will mark a significant turning point in Candler’s history. By highlighting Candler’s diverse and ecumenical community, we want also to send a symbolic message of support to the LGBT community that is an active and vital part of the school’s life,” says Treloar-Reid.
Partridge and Robinson are both nationally recognized faith leaders who just happen also to be transgender. Partridge divides his time between serving as Episcopal chaplain at Boston University and as lecturer and counselor for Episcopal/Anglican students at Harvard Divinity School. He made headlines in 2014 as the first transgender priest to preach at the historic Washington National Cathedral. Robinson, known for her work serving the LGBT community in the military, was also recently transitional pastor of Calvary Baptist Church in Washington, D.C.—taking over the pulpit of the Rev. Amy Butler who left to become the Riverside Church’s senior minister in New York.
Partridge’s and Robinson’s visits are co-sponsored by Candler’s Episcopal Studies and Baptist Studies programs.
Founded in 1993, Sacred Worth is the school’s student organization, which advocates the full inclusion of the lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and queer people in church communities.
Photo provided by Candler School of Theology