Former Austinite is Methodist Church’s first non-binary trans deacon


    A former Austinite is now The United Methodist Church's first openly non-binary trans person to be ordained as a deacon.

    After 12 years, M Barclay, who prefers the pronouns them/their, can call themself reverend. It's a title that took 12 years to earn-- more than twice as long as most Methodists pursuing the same ordination.

    "I am just filled with joy and excitement that this wall has been broken down-- at least in this moment," says Barclay.

    Barclay, who now lives in Chicago, spoke with CBS Austin by video call. Barclay recalled the role Austin seminary and an Austin Church, University United Methodist, played in personal growth and the fight against discrimination.

    "Most of what I associate with Austin is very positive. I always had a phenomenal community of support. At the same time, I obviously faced some very, very hurtful forms of discrimination in Austin," Barclay says.

    Barclay's track to ordination nearly derailed in Texas, and pastors who know Barclay didn't know how this all would end.

    "Not having any doubts about [Barclay's] qualifications, [Barclay's] call to ministry. No doubts about that stuff, but just... would those who are the keepers of the gate let [Barclay] through the gate on to ordination?" asked Rev. John Elford, senior pastor at University United Methodist Church. Barclay served as youth director at UUMC until the call to ordination forced Barclay farther north were the path was more clear.

    Barclay's former church in Austin joined other faith groups at the capitol just last month advocating for LGBTQ rights in Texas. "We seem to have some issues around fully recognizing LGBTQ persons in our church, and I'm just so pleased not only for [Barclay] but also for the gifts that [they] will bring to the church and to the community that [they] want to minister to," adds Elford.

    Barclay's ordination is a big step -- one Barclay believes the United Methodist Church is ready for-- still, full inclusion for LGBTQ persons could be a long way off.

    "I just want to always hold that tension-- celebration, and we are also still doing harm and it's on all of us who are people of faith to make sure that our faith is not being used for ill in the world," Barclay says.

    Now starts Barclay's two year provisional period. Barclay plans to be fully ordained in 2019. Barclay found a new place of belonging with the Reconciling Ministries Network advocating for LGBTQ persons.

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