Since last summer, New Jersey-based Pastor Peter (neé Rose) Beeson has been transitioning from woman to man. On Sunday 11 February, Beeson was officially recognized by his new name.
This historic ‘renaming ceremony’ took place at St. Matthew Trinity Lutheran Church in Hoboken, New Jersey.
After Lutheran Bishop Tracie Bartholomew finished the parish’s regular Sunday service, Beeson accompanied her to the baptismal font at the church’s entrance. Then, Bartholomew affimed Beeson’s baptism and called him Peter for the first time.
Since Beeson, 31, began his transition, he shared his progress with his supportive parish community. According to the church’s website, Beeson is one of the first ministers of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America to transition from female to male while serving as a pastor.
Bishop Bartholomew has been supportive of Beeson from the beginning.
‘I support Pastor Beeson coming to the realization who he really is,’ she said. ‘St. Matthew Trinity is a welcoming place and showing leadership to respond to gender identity and sexuality.’
‘This a wonderful day in the life of this radically inclusive community,’ Mark Singleton, a 21-year member of the church, told NJ.com.
Beeson chose the name Peter because ‘Peter’s persistence resonated’ with him.
Growing up in Arizona, Beeson always felt ‘queer.’ But in the conservative Evangelical church there, he never felt comfortable identifying as a woman.
‘I wrestled with sex and gender from my teens into my early 20s,’ Beeson recalls. He remembers seeing two films about transgender men—Boys Don’t Cry and Southern Comfort—both of which had violent endings.
‘Seeing those scared me and pushed me back,’ Beeson said.
Before joining the church, Beeson worked as an IT professional. He then attended Pacific Lutheran Seminary in Berkeley, California, which is part of the progressive Graduate Theological Union.
Beeson says his family back in Arizona supports his transition, but he now considers the Hoboken church community his family.
‘I am grateful to be in a congregation in part to be a bold witness to God’s mercy and grace,’ he said.
The quote the church used on the event page of Beeson’s renaming ceremony is:
‘As many of you were baptized into Christ have clothed yourselves with Christ. There is no longer Jew or Greek, there is no longer slave or free, there is no longer male and female, for all of you are one in Christ Jesus.’—Galatians 3