Transgender Christians to hold conference to train future church leaders

Transgender Christians are set to gather for a spiritual conference in August organized by the Reconciling Ministries Network to prepare the people who will lead the church in the future.

(REUTERS / Chris Keane)Voters stand in line outside of at Harrison United Methodist Church during the U.S. presidential election in Pineville, North Carolina, November 6, 2012.

The conference in August, which is called Rooted, will feature poet and activist J Mase III. The Rev. Erin Swenson, the first ordained United Methodist Church minister to come out as gay and retain her position, will also be part of the gathering as a facilitator, NBC News details.

"Gender is the language of the soul, expressing the very deepest part of each one of us," Swenson explained to NBC Out. "The full and healthy expression of authentic gender allows us to grow and to connect with one another and with God. In nurturing transgender leadership, Rooted is essential space for our current time."

The conference will also include activities that aim to develop leadership qualities in the participants. The transgender Christians will also be equipped with the tools they need to perform their "faith-centered social justice work" when they are integrated into the church and society.

RMN, which helps work out LGBTQI issues in the United Methodist Church, believes that it is important to connect with transgender Christians to strengthen the community. The organization's director of communications, M Barclay, told NBC Out that he believes it is important for the transgender to be able to gather "without having to explain or defend" themselves.

Last year, at least 100 UMC clergy members came out as gay a day before their 2016 General Conference. Protesters also expressed their disapproval at the church's seeming lack of acceptance for the LGBTQI community, CBS San Francisco Bay Area reports.

RMN published a letter signed by 111 ministers that says the church requires them to hide their sexual orientations and gender identities from the public. Delegates of the UMC conference called for full inclusion of LGBTQI Christians in the church.