Presbyterian Group Appoints First Openly Transgender Director of Mainline Protestant Organization

By Catherine Woodiwiss 07-24-2013
Vector image of cross. Photo courtesy zzveillust/

Vector image of cross. Photo courtesy zzveillust/

More Light Presbyterians, a network of congregations and individuals in the Presbyterian Church (USA) that advocates for LGBT inclusion, today announced Alex McNeill as their new executive director. McNeill is the first openly transgender person to lead a mainline Protestant organization.

McNeill, a longtime advocate for gay, lesbian, bisexual, transgendered, and queer Christians, has longstanding roots in the church.

“The Presbyterian church has been an expression of Christian principles and values,” McNeill told Sojourners. “It has always been supportive of me, figuring out how I was called to God’s work.”

More Light works to “follow the risen Christ” by working “for the full participation of lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and queer (LGBTQ) people in the life, ministry and witness of the Presbyterian Church (USA) and in society,” according to their statement released earlier today.

In the statement, More Light noted McNeill’s history of faith mobilizing, including the passage of same-sex marriage legislation in Maryland and the ordination of LGBTQ Presbyterians in 2011.

“There is power in connecting people who are deeply committed to churches with issues of social justice,” McNeill said.

“[The church] embodies the belief that faith calls us to action. We have a commitment to live out our call to care for the poor, for the hungry, and for the outcast. So we seek to not just teach values, but to equip people with tools for social justice,” he continued.

McNeill also pointed to ongoing efforts among faith groups on immigration reformclimate change, and poverty initiatives as indicative of justice-minded energy among Christians.

“There is a strong movement for social justice within the church today,” McNeill said. “The American church has had an amazing track record in the past few years on standing up on issues of justice."

"This is a great time" for More Light Presbyterians, he concluded.

Catherine Woodiwiss is Associate Web Editor at Sojourners. Find her on Twitter @chwoodiwiss.

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