As queer and trans ministers who have faced significant discrimination in the church, Rev. Anna Blaedel and Rev. M Barclay know personally the impact of harmful words used in religious spaces. Despite the barriers they’ve faced in the institutional church, they’re committed to helping others connect with the Sacred in ways that matter. For this reason, they’ve launched a new nonprofit called enfleshed.
With Rev. Barclay – the first openly non-binary trans and queer deacon to be commissioned in The United Methodist Church (The UMC) – serving as director and Rev. Blaedel – who was recently on the docket of The UMC’s version of the supreme court – serving as Theologian-in-Residence, they hope to bring what matters back to religious language and practices through spiritual resources the church often fails to provide.
Along with weekly liturgy for progressive clergy that encourages queer, anti-racist, and feminist lenses on worship preparation, enfleshed intends to meet pastoral needs that are lacking in the church due to decades of discrimination. While many have, understandably, lost interest in institutionalized religion, those that ground themselves within the Christian tradition but identify with more “radical” politics and identities deserve pastors too.
Where else do queer folx have to turn if they want language for their wedding ceremony grounded in both their faith and their queer values?
Where can the Christian family of a trans person lost to suicide or violence turn for meaningful words to speak at their funeral?
Who better than queer and trans pastors to offer online pastoral care sessions to the parents who want to support their trans kid but need some help thinking about God and scripture differently for the first time?
Rev. Blaedel and Rev. Barclay are far from the first or only queer pastors to engage in this important work, but through enfleshed, they hope to grow a base, expanding enfleshed staff with others who can broaden and deepen enfleshed’s commitment to ministry that is expansive and intersectional.
Rev. Barclay explained, “In these challenging times, many desire to engage in a spirituality that is fiercely committed to justice and simultaneously rooted in tenderness and community. Despite the ways many Christian institutions have strayed from the radical roots of the gospel, the Sacred continues to speak into our lives, loves, hopes, and aches. I’m eager for enfleshed to be a place people can turn to for the resources they need to connect with a God who is present in every act of resistance against injustice and also every glimpse of beauty that persists despite it all. We’re committed to doing ministry that matters and we are excited to partner with all the other radical pastors doing the work of justice, liberation, and delight.”