The announcement by your priest‐in-‐charge that he is transgender has resulted in our church taking a look at gender in ways that would not have likely ocurred in a previous generation.
26 February 2014
The Priest‐in‐Charge and Vestry
4101 Hazel Street
Pine Bluff, AR 71603
Dear Greg and members of the vestry:
The announcement by your priest‐in-‐charge that he is transgender has resulted in our church taking a look at gender in ways that would not have likely ocurred in a previous generation. It is a situation that our society and culture are looking at as well, and in that the church ministers in the context of the culture in which we are placed, it is only natural that such a discussion will take place in the church. Initial conversations are often difficult, as all of you at Grace Church have discovered. I am convinced that in the long run, open and loving conversations lead to increased health for us as individuals and as congregations, and they promote the mission of the church to restore our unity with one another and with God.
I realize that at Grace Church one thing I can do to assist with your current health and to refocus all of us on mission is to offer my leadership as your bishop in the most constructive way possible. With that end in mind, I have decided to dissolve the relationship between the priest‐in-charge and Grace Church, effective February 28, 2014. This action will allow the priest to transition at a pace that might not otherwise be possible, and it allows the congregation to reflect calmly on its recent discussions and reflect on how we live out our call to mission in a broken world that needs our witness.
I have great respect for Greg’s ministry among the people of Grace Church this past year, and I have equal respect for the witness of Grace Church to the people of Pine Bluff and beyond. We will all move forward, confident that God is forming us to be the people that God desires us to be.
With every best wish I remain.
Larry R. Benfield
Bishop of Arkansas