Sex-change Methodist minister placed on leave as complaint is considered

Posted: Friday, June 14, 2002

BALTIMORE (AP) -- A United Methodist minister who had a sex change operation will be put on a temporary leave of absence while the church reviews an internal complaint against her.

The Rev. Rebecca Ann Steen, formerly known as the Rev. Richard Zamostny, was a pastor in Rockville, Md., before the 1999 operation.

Bishop Felton E. May of Washington, D.C., discussed the complaint against Steen, which could take months to settle, in a closed session at an annual regional meeting. No details of the complaint were released.

The Rev. Dean Snyder, a church spokesman, said the denomination's policy requires a clergy member to be placed on a leave of absence while church officials decide if an internal complaint is valid.

Conservatives have separately lobbied against giving a new pastoral appointment to the minister. Mark Tooley of the conservative Institute on Religion and Democracy was disappointed the bishop has not addressed the issue of transgendered pastors.

The United Methodist Church, the nation's third-largest denomination with 8.4 million U.S. members, bars practicing homosexuals as pastors but has set no rule on transgendered pastors.

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