Bishop of Arkansas on gender confusion at Grace Church Pine Bluff

Larry Benfield.jpg

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

Grace Church

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.

Faithfully  yours,

Larry  R.  Benfield

Bishop  of  Arkansas