Episcopal Diocese of Arkansas discusses transgender priest

LITTLE ROCK, Ark. (KTHV) - After coming out as transgender, a local reverend is trying to get back to living life. On Wednesday night, the Episcopal Diocese of Arkansas decided to dissolve her relationship with the congregation.

Up until Sunday, Grace Episcopal Church in Pine Bluff knew her as Reverend Greg Fry. Now, her name is Gwen. In a statement released Thursday, Fry said, "I fully support and agree with the bishop's action of dissolution and believe it was the very best thing to happen for everyone involved".

"I have the greatest admiration for her," said Center for Artistic Revolution Executive Director Randi Romo. "I hope that her particular congregation and other Arkansans can take away a lesson about what it means to love one another."

Center for Artistic Revolution, or CAR, is an organization that strives for fairness and equality for all Arkansans. Romo knows Gwen Fry and says Fry should be known as a woman who has made tremendous sacrifices to be true to herself.

"When you are a person that is lesbian, gay or a transgender person, the only choice that is really yours is whether you're going to live honestly."

"This particular congregation decided since this congregation had known Greg as a male, it would be difficult for the congregation to continue having the leadership of someone who is now female," said Bishop Larry Benfield.

Larry Benfield is the Bishop of the Episcopal Diocese of Arkansas. He says Fry came to him a few months ago to start the conversation about his transition. Benfield says Fry is still a priest in the Episcopal Church just not at Grace Church. Romo says this is heartbreaking.

Romo said, "I know how much she loves her church. She loves her faith. She loves her congregation. It is an ultimate act of courage and self love trying to figure out how to stay in a place of grace and love with those who don't necessarily accept you."

This announcement is the first of its kind in the Episcopal Diocese of Arkansas. Fry's last day with Grace Church is February 28, 2014.

Bishop Benfield says, in the Episcopal Church, they're continuing the conversation about what it means to be transgender in this country.


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