(ETH) – Not long after the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America elected its first transgender bishop, a transgender woman was ordained in a Baptist church. At a May 23 ceremony, Laura Bethany Buchleiter was ordained at University Baptist Church in Bloomington, Indiana.
The congregation, which left the Southern Baptist Convention in 1999 after accepting a female pastor, is part of the Georgia-based Cooperative Baptist Fellowship (CBF). Although some reports identify this as a “first,” Buchleiter clarifies on Facebook: “I’m not the first transgender person to be ordained in a Baptist church, I may be just the second—and the first in a CBF church.
I’m very grateful for those who have gone before me, and am also very aware that we are all still pioneers in this space.” University Baptist Pastor Annette Briggs says, “We’re not ordaining Laura Beth because she is transgender. Our church self-identifies as a church that listens to the call of the people irrespective of gender or sexual orientation.”
Briggs adds of Buchleiter’s ministry, “It’s a whole lot easier to tell the truth when you’re not hiding a truth.” Laura Bethany Buchleiter, 49, graduated from Christian Theological Seminary in Indianapolis the day before being ordained. While studying there, Buchleiter served as interim pastor at University Baptist, and up next is an interim pastorate at a United Church of Christ congregation in Wyoming. READ MORE