More Light Presbyterians is delighted to share that Wednesday the Presbytery of Western North Carolina approved Alex for ordination as a Minister of the Word and Sacrament to the validated ministry position of Executive Director of More Light Presbyterians. More Light celebrates that Alex is the first openly transgender man to complete the ordination process and be ordained within the Presbyterian Church, U.S.A. This is a momentous occasion for Alex, for More Light, and for the church, and we are nothing short of joyful to share this news.
Ministers of the Word and Sacrament are called “to teach the faith and equip people for the work of ministry. . . lifting people’s vision toward the hope of God’s new creation” (G-2.0501). For much of More Light’s history, More Light has offered a vision of ministry that was beyond the scope of the denomination. Over that time, we have seen the Spirit move in the hearts and minds of the church, expanding the vision of ministry and of ministers. With that expanded vision, the mission of the church, too, has expanded. Those whom the church saw as beyond the bounds of ministry for many years are now understood and celebrated as part of the fullness of the church.
Through the work of the Spirit, More Light has been a fundamental part of changing the church’s vision of what ministry looks like, and we are now equipped to help the church live into that expanded vision. As a ministry validated by the church, More Light is able to live fully into doing ministry within the church. And we know the work is not done.
We are at a critical time in history when churches are called upon to shine the light of Christ in a world in deep need of Good News. The divisions between us are growing deeper, fear weighs heavy on the hearts and minds of many of us; anger and bitterness lurk like heavy clouds before a dangerous storm. The need for a hopeful and expansive vision of how to live in the world is great, and only growing. As an organization whose history is rooted in overcoming fear in the midst of almost insurmountable circumstances, we believe we are called to continue offering an expansive vision – of what ministry looks like, of what it means to be the church. As a validated ministry, we not only have the support of the denomination in doing that work, but the calling by the church to do so.
Alex reflected on what ordination means to him:
“I am so grateful for the amazing cloud of witnesses who surrounded me today for the unanimous vote by the Presbytery of Western North Carolina to validate the position of Executive Director of More Light Presbyterians and ordain me to it. The affirmation and joyous celebration of my gifts for ministry and the work of More Light I received today felt nearly unimaginable 14 years ago when I first began my process for ordination. Today was what every person who is called to ministry should experience: being surrounded by family and your church family, appreciated for the gifts you bring to ministry, and welcomed whole-heartedly into the life of the Church. I am so honored to serve this community in an ordained role that deepens the work we are called to do in a world that desperately needs to hear a message of God’s abundant love.”
Amy Kim Kyremes-Parks and Rev. Scott Clark, Co-Moderators of the Board of More Light, expressed their joy on behalf of the More Light Board of Directors:
The Board of More Light Presbyterians celebrates with The Great Cloud of Witnesses at the approval the Presbytery of Western North Carolina of Alex McNeill for ordination to the Ministry of the Word and Sacrament. Alex has journeyed with the church (PC(USA)) through seasons of challenge and affirmation. The Spirit has used Alex to help us understand what the expansive love of God looks like and acts like. This decision is both an affirmation of what we know to be true: Alex has been called by God to serve and teach the church with his amazing self and we are better for having Alex lead us! Through this journey toward ordination we as a community of faith have continued to be inspired by and learn from Alex’s prophetic voice for the Church.
Alex will be the first openly transgender man to be ordained in the PC(USA) to the Ministry of the Word and Sacrament. We are thankful for the sacrifice and time Alex has given through this process of ordination – ‘well done good and faithful servant.’
This ordination will create even more opportunity for Alex to lead More Light as Executive Director towards a deeper commitment by the church for inclusion for all people.
More Light staff members Rev. Jess Cook and Susan Robertson offered their reflections on this exciting news:
Ordination is an affirmation of what has been true for so long: Alex has been a minister for years, and so much of his life and work has been about doing the work of ministry in the world around him. While so many things in the world seek to separate and divide us, Alex’s voice and vision are deeply needed in the Church today, now more than ever. Ordaining Alex to the position of Executive Director enables him to fully participate as a partner in ministry with those seeking to bring about a fuller vision of what it means to be the Church in a world in deep need of Good News.
Plans are being finalized for the Presbytery of Western North Carolina t0 celebrate Alex’s ordination at First Presbyterian Church, Asheville, on Friday, October 11 at 3pm ET. In the coming weeks we will send out information with updated details!