Nearly four years ago, the Rev. David Weekley, a United Methodist minister, shared a secret that surprised many in his Portland, Ore., congregation: He was born female.
Weekley, who at that point had been ordained for 27 years, didn't know what to expect. He weaved his story into what would otherwise be a standard sermon on Psalm 139, explaining that God is "with people all the time," and Matthew 22, in which Jesus says the greatest commandments are to love God and love your neighbor.
"The room went silent. There was a lot of support, but a lot of push back," said Weekley, 62, who had been ordained long after transitioning from female to male. "There were attempts to bring charges in the denomination, to have my ordination revoked. It was messy."
Today, Weekley, who has moved to the Northeast to complete a doctorate of ministry that focuses on helping transgender people explore their spirituality, is still ordained, although his church doesn't officially allow openly transgender people to become clergy. He attends Lexington United Methodist Church, belongs to a group called Reconciling Ministries Network that trains and certifies Methodist churches that want to be open to lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender worshipers, and runs Sherman's Wilderness, a "Christian ministry dedicated offering all God's people a spiritual home."