From the Episcopal Diocese of Atlanta:

Openly transgender priest to preach, speak at Candler

 Tuesday, March 24; 11:00 AM – 12:00 PM

Cannon Chapel @ Emory University
515 S. Kilgo Circle
Atlanta, GA 30322

Atlanta, Ga.—For the first time, an openly transgender priest is scheduled to preach at Candler School of Theology at Emory University, Bishop Keith Whitmore has announced. 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 kick off a week of programming organized by the student group Sacred Worth, which 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. Members of the diocese are invited and encouraged to attend the events.

“One of the great joys for me as a teacher is to engage with students about Anglican theology—a tradition which encompasses an inclusive approach to discipleship and leadership in the Church,” says Bishop Whitmore. “I am pleased that two of the most prominent transgender faith leaders—one of them an Episcopal priest—will be visiting us at Candler School of Theology. I am also pleased to invite members of the diocese to join us for this important and historic witness and to engage with us in conversation about the vital contribution of the transgender community to the Church.”

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 ecumenical student organization, which supports the full inclusion of lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and queer people in church communities.

Zebulun Treloar-Reid, who serves as president of Sacred Worth and is also a third-year Episcopal Studies student at Candler and seminarian at Church of Our Savior, says that the ministries of Partridge and Robinson made him 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.

Schedule of Events

Tuesday, March 24, 11:05 a.m.
Service of Holy Eucharist, the Rev. Dr. Cameron Partridge, presider and preacher
Cannon Chapel, Emory University

The weekly chapel service of sung Holy Eucharist at Candler School of Theology will follow the Episcopal liturgy set forth in the Book of Common Prayer. The service will include participants from the school’s LGBT community and a sermon by the Rev. Dr. Cameron Partridge.

Thursday, March 26, 6:00 p.m.
“Trans*forming Christianity”: A Conversation with Allyson Robinson
Candler School of Theology, Rita Anne Rollins Building, Room 252

A nationally recognized transgender activist, Allyson Robinson is also a graduate of the United States Military Academy at West Point, a commissioned officer in the Army, an ordained Baptist minister, and a sought-after consultant for companies, government agencies, and NGOs seeking her diversity and cross-cultural engagement expertise. She has worked at the Human Rights Campaign, OutServe-SLDN, and recently served as transitional pastor at Calvary Baptist Church in Washington, D.C. She will be leading a discussion about transgender inclusion in the Church today as well as highlighting the need for training of current and future military chaplains to provide pastoral care to LGBT members of the armed forces.