Cameron Partridge, the first openly transgender priest to preach at the Washington National Cathedral, gave a sermon that is sure to cause controversy in the coming days. Partridge is one of only seven openly transgender priests in the Episcopal Church. He also serves at Boston University as the Episcopal Chaplain and is a lecturer and counselor at Harvard Divinity School.
The transgender priest was joined by the first openly gay bishop in the Episcopal church, Gene Robinson, who presided over the service. The day included special readings from scripture and the sermon centered around the celebration of the LGBTQ community. The Washington National Cathedral is celebrating Pride Month in June and for the first time filled the Canterbury pulpit with a transgender priest.
Although the decision had already created quite a controversy, with some of the Episcopal community considering the move to be too liberal, the Cathedral never backed down from their decision. Cameron Partridge filled the pulpit and expanded upon the theme of the day, which was “revelation”. With readings from the scriptures discussing bringing the truth into the light and revealing that which is hidden, Partridge took aim at the subject of oppression in the LGBTQ community.
“When Jesus tells his disciples to speak in the light, to uncover the hidden, to proclaim from the heights, he is asking them to join that stream, to become active participants in that blindingly good news. Of course, Jesus also explicitly warns that not everyone would experience such revelation as good, and that some might actively persecute the disciples for it. Doing this work would be utterly demanding.”
First openly transgender priest preaches from the pulpit at National Cathedral Sunday. Rev. Dr. Cameron Partridge. pic.twitter.com/MOYA2wCqSb
— Kathy Stewart (@KStewartWTOP) June 22, 2014
Partridge’s focus was squarely on the steps the Episcopal church has taken to lead the charge in creating equal opportunities for the LGBTQ community. Partridge feels that many like him are putting their lives on the line by taking a stand against the oppression of the civil liberties of the LGBTQ community.
The Episcopal Church, an independent U.S.-based institution affiliated with global Anglicanism, voted in 2012 to allow the ordination of transgender people and also approved same-sex marriage blessings. Cameron Partridge began the transformation from a woman to a man over a decade ago and has become the leading voice for more progressive changes in the Episcopal Church.
With many Presbyterian churches deciding recently to legalize homosexual marriages, it will be interesting to see how the broader Christian community reacts. In the short term, it is likely that more conservative branches of the Christian faith will react strongly to the comparison by the transgender priest of Jesus and his disciples to the LGBTQ community.
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