I made the front page (below the fold)!

The article below was published in the Newburyport (MA) local paper, The Daily News on 25 April 2008. I preached at the First Religious Society (Unitarian Universalist) the following day. The caption to the picture that accompanied the article read, “Barb Greve, a transgender man who is a priest in the Unitarian Church, will speak in Newburyport tomorrow.”

Published: April 25, 2008 10:09 pm

As part of annual service, transgender minister to speak

By Stephen Tait
Staff Writer

NEWBURYPORT — Hoping to open the minds of its parishioners and the city at large, the Unitarian Universalist Church’s Welcoming Congregation Committee is charged each year with organizing one Sunday service with a focus on gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender people and experiences.

Toward that end, the path of Barb Greve, a lifelong member of the Unitarian Universalist Church who has a master’s degree in divinity, couldn’t be more fitting.

Tomorrow at the 10:30 a.m. service, Greve, who refers to himself as a transgender guy, will give a sermon at the Pleasant Street church called “Courage From Necessity.”

“It is our mandate to recognize all people — that is why we have a Welcoming Congregation Committee,” said Kristine Murphy, chairwoman of the committee. “We’ve often had a gay man or a gay woman, but we’ve never had a transgendered person speak. This is really the first time we’ve had that happen.

“We really feel it is a learning experience, even for the people on the committee.”

Greve, who is the interim director of religious education at the Unitarian Society of New Haven in Connecticut, is a lifelong member of the Unitarian Universalist Church. He earned his Masters of Divinity at Starr King School for the Ministry in 2007.

“Courage From Necessity” is a sermon based on gender and Greve’s experiences in becoming a transgendered man. Greve could not be reached for comment, and Murphy said she did not want to talk too much about the topic of the sermon since she had not heard or read it.

Born a woman, Greve came out as a transgender guy in 1995, according to his blog, Barb’s Bantering. On the blog, he posted a transcript of testimony he gave to the Connecticut Legislature in March when it was considering discrimination in the state.

“In the 10 years that followed my coming out I was privileged to work with religious and secular institutions as they struggled with how to best be welcoming and supportive towards transgender people,” the transcript states. “Through both my professional work and my own lived experience I am encouraged that while many people do not understand transgender identity and expression, they are willing to learn about it in order to be supportive towards transgender people.”

Murphy said she sees Newburyport on the front lines of gay rights, just as the city’s residents of past generations fought for other forms of equality, including the abolition of slavery and civil rights in the 1960s.

Oftentimes, she said, those causes were fought from the pulpit — and gay rights should be no different.

“I think if it is going to happen anywhere, it is going to happen in Newburyport,” she said. “With all that’s been going on with the gay marriage topic, which we have preached about that in the past, we preach that your sexual preference should not keep you from wanting to be a member of the church.”

While many churches would likely shy away from inviting Greve to the pulpit, Murphy said the church has always preached acceptance.

“We don’t discriminate,” she said.

Murphy said Greve’s sermon to the church and in the city could help teach Newburyporters about a topic many don’t know much about.

“I think they can learn acceptance,” she said. “I think they can learn that just because somebody goes outside what is considered the norm of sexual preference, that people are the same. I think too that maybe if they look inside yourself, they can see where they’ve been a little ignorant in their way of thinking. And I don’t mean ignorant as a negative thing, but it is the not knowing.”

Published in: on 28 April 2008 at 8.00  Comments (1)