An LGBT advocacy organization within one of the nation’s foremost Christian denominations announced its new executive director, Alex McNeill, who, in making history, becomes the first openly transgender leader of a mainline Protestant group.
“I’m honored to join More Light Presbyterians, which has always been on the forefront of the Christian tradition of fostering acceptance for the most vulnerable among us,” said McNeil, 30, in a press statement announcing his appointment, which takes effect later this month.
“Following the risen Christ, and seeking to make the church a true community of hospitality,” the mission of More Light Presbyterians, based in Minnetonka, Minnesota, is “to work for the full participation of lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and queer people in the life, ministry and witness of the Presbyterian Church (USA) and in society.”
“Our search committee unanimously chose Alex because he has a proven track record of leading and growing organizations,” said Nathan Sobers, co-moderator of MLP. “We believe that he is uniquely qualified to lead More Light during this important moment in the church.”
In the secular arena, McNeill has campaigned for ballot measures and legislation to promote LGBTQ rights. For example, he served as communications and development director and field director for Equality Maryland and was active last fall in the successful ballot measure that secured same-sex civil marriage in that state.
Within his denomination, moreover, McNeill worked to secure ordination equality for Presbyterians and celebrated that success by becoming the first openly transgender ministry candidate from his home presbytery in western North Carolina.
He holds a bachelor’s degree in religious studies from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and a master of divinity from the Harvard Divinity School.
McNeill came out as a lesbian at the age of 18 and to family and friends as transgender six years ago. At 22, he entered the ordination process and came out transgender to his ordination committee last year.
The feature-length documentary film Out of Order chronicles the lives of three queer Presbyterians, including McNeill, seeking to be ordained ministers in the church.
It was in July 2010 when Presbyterian activists succeeded in dismantling a gay ordination ban