United Methodist Drag Queen

United Methodist Drag Queen Gets Star Treatment from UMNS

Jeffrey Walton on July 22, 2021

A United Methodist candidate for ordination who performs as a drag queen has been favorably profiled by the denomination’s official news service.

“Drag is over-the-top and joyous,” a pearl-bedecked Isaac Simmons shared, his tall 23-year-old frame balanced atop high heels and crowned with a bright red wig to preach on Pentecost Sunday as his drag persona, Ms. Penny Cost.

A service at Hope Church of Bloomington, Illinois was featured in a video profile of Simmons by Joey Butler and Mike DuBose of the United Methodist News Service (UMNS). Accompanied by upbeat guitar, the video follows Simmons as he embraces congregants and speaks of a spiritual journey that led him to United Methodism.

In March, Simmons became the first openly gay candidate to be certified for ministry in the Illinois Great Rivers Conference of the United Methodist Church. He currently serves as operations director for Hope Church.

Simmons previously admitted surprise that his candidacy was approved through a unanimous vote by the Vermillion River District Committee on Ministry.

“I have a duty to use my privilege to do what change I can — no matter if it’s uncomfortable or not,” Simmons told UMNS. “It’s a divine duty that we all have.”

UMNS is an apportionment-funded agency of the denomination. It’s active, public promotion of Simmons places drag queen ministers within the denomination’s mainstream discourse. 

Switching to somber piano notes, the video acknowledges language in the Book of Discipline declaring homosexuality “incompatible with Christian teaching” and forbids the ordination of “self-avowed, practicing homosexuals.” The video transitions to encouragement that Simmons received, including approving comments from Hope Church Lead Pastor The Rev. Jennie Edwards Bertrand who shared her excitement for Simmons’ ministry.

“Despite the controversy, Isaac said he loves that United Methodism is big enough to embrace both conservative theology and a drag queen,” text on the video reads. Simmons names the Biblical Queen Esther as a figure from which he draws strength, citing Esther 4:14 “Perhaps you were born for a day such as this.”

As the United Methodist Church prepares for an expected vote of separation at the upcoming General Conference, theological revisionists anticipate a new reality in a “post-separation” denomination (psUMC) that is expected to discard clergy sexual conduct expectations. UMNS’ promotion of Simmons’ candidacy foreshadows what is likely ahead, with decreasing room for anyone to object to a drag queen preaching in drag from their congregation’s pulpit or appointed as pastor over their congregation.

The full UMNS report can be viewed on YouTube below:

UPDATE [10/14/2022]: Isaac Simmons preached October 2 at Allendale UMC in St. Petersburg, Florida, as Ms. Penny Cost, including a children’s sermon. Read more here.

  1. Comment by Mike on July 22, 2021 at 8:13 am

    Truly something for United Methodists to be proud of.


    I wonder what my Methodist missionaries to Africa forefathers would have thought of the current state of Methodist affairs. I’m glad when that my father got saved, he lived closer to the Baptist church than the Methodist, and therefore I grew up Baptist rather than Methodist.

  2. Comment by Anthony on July 22, 2021 at 10:07 am

    While bishop Haupert-Johnson of the North Ga Conference lifted Rev. Jody Ray’s ordination credentials at Mt Bethel UMC through extortion, since she had no Book of Discipline grounds for filing a complaint against him, this candidate is being approved for ordination in this conference, which is in direct violation of the same Book of Discipline, and all this is just dandy where “love is making room”?

    So, the psUMC will obviously continue the purge underway of traditional ministers and replace them like this while stating that traditionalists will be welcomed, respected, and valued in this new psUMC?

  3. Comment by Patrick98 on July 22, 2021 at 11:28 am

    Drag is the misogynistic equivalent to blackface, yet women in America are not protesting against it. Hmmm…

  4. Comment by Tom on July 22, 2021 at 4:04 pm

    I still can’t believe this is not satire. Please tell me it’s satire.

  5. Comment by E C on July 22, 2021 at 5:24 pm

    “I have a duty to use my privilege to do what change I can — no matter if it’s uncomfortable or not,” Simmons told UMNS.

    Aside from the obvious question of whether this ministerial candidate is a “practicing homosexual” or not, I question his motives concerning the quote above. Is he saying that he has a duty to make people in church uncomfortable for the sake of change? Granted, change can be good and Godly at times, but for the sake of accepting drag queens in the pulpit? That seems like a pretty shallow goal that does little or nothing to shepherd a flock towards Jesus Christ.

  6. Comment by Anuschka on July 22, 2021 at 5:51 pm

    Methodists have made a mockery of the church, a mockery of God, and a mockery of all believers. For shame.

  7. Comment by David on July 22, 2021 at 7:48 pm

    I have always considered drag to be a form of mockery of women. This is hardly appropriate in a church any more than dressing up as a clown or in a Barney the dino costume.

  8. Comment by Tracy on July 22, 2021 at 7:55 pm

    These people are not representatives of Methodists nor Christians (true followers who actually believe and follow the gospel). The have made of mockery of the Gospel. Please understand that those who follow the way of the world and not God are not representatives of anything other than the deceiver and the subtle ways he tries to bring chaos into God’s order. When Methodist traditionalists separate from this liberal bunch cannot be too soon. Read the Bible if you want to understand what true believers follow.

  9. Comment by Jeff on July 22, 2021 at 8:21 pm

    What bothers me as much as this filthy immoral heretic “itself” is the deafening roar of SILENCE about the heresy from the bishops — even the so-called “traditional” ones. They can’t be troubled to denounce the evil HERESY of the progressive left, because collegiality. Or something.

    Even among the leading lights of the WCA, you will not find the likes of Boyette, or Watson, or Lambrecht, or Ritter proclaim loud and clear that this is the path of eternal destruction.

    The Global Methodist Church, lacking the courage to clearly define why this is not merely distasteful but EVIL HERESY, dooms itself. Lacking the will and courage to call evil EVIL will guarantee infection from that same evil in short order, should the sleepers ever even make it to that dissolution vote.

  10. Comment by Wesley putnam on July 22, 2021 at 11:56 pm

    Isn’t there a prohibition against using apportionment dollars to promote the lgbtq+ agenda?

  11. Comment by floyd lee on July 23, 2021 at 12:28 am

    I haven’t watched the YouTube video. Nor will I do so. I honestly can’t stand looking at Friday Fright-Night movies.

    The unprecedented and imminent destruction of the UMC is a heartbreaker. This drag queen (and all of his liberal Methodist enablers), are clearly part of the Horror Show.

  12. Comment by Lee Cary on July 23, 2021 at 8:46 am

    “UMNS is an apportionment-funded agency of the denomination.”

    UMNS is to the UMC as Pravda (‘truth’) was to the former Soviet Union between 1918-1991.

    The fast food industry awaits the arrival of former UMNS ‘journalists’.

  13. Comment by Lee Cary on July 23, 2021 at 8:52 am

    Ms./Mr. Simmons is destined for the Methodist Episcopacy.

  14. Comment by JL on July 23, 2021 at 2:03 pm

    My husband and I both grew up in the UMC. We were baptized, confirmed, and married in the UMC and attended a UM church during college and the early years of our marriage. About 20 years ago when our children were very small, we got very serious about our faith and began really studying the Bible, something that had never been strongly encouraged during all our years in the UMC. We became more and more discouraged because we liked the people, but we realized our UMC churches had been nothing more than do-gooder “social justice” social clubs that didn’t really care about God’s Word. We fled to a church that actually preached the Bible and have been there ever since. Our former church is a dying church with a rapidly declining membership of elderly people while the Bible teaching church is growing like crazy. People are still hungry for the Gospel! The UMC is such a trainwreck. We are planning a move and have already decided that, despite the UM church being the only nearby church, we will not attend there and will travel as far as needed to find a church that doesn’t call evil good.

  15. Comment by Joan Sibbald on July 23, 2021 at 3:26 pm

    A corrupt man is evil; a corrupt woman is worse. He/she Simmons checks both boxes.
    As for Jennie Edwards Bertrand, I repeat, a corrupt woman is worse.

  16. Comment by Wayne on July 24, 2021 at 8:36 am

    Looking at the church website, 2/3 of the church staff identify as LGBT, so he’ll fit right in there. Sad how the UMC is falling spiritually. We are indeed fast approaching our Lord’s return.

  17. Comment by David Gingrich on July 24, 2021 at 8:58 am

    Jesus wept.

  18. Comment by George on July 24, 2021 at 11:44 am

    We all sin. No doubt we all fall short. But, to flaunt that sin, and to rub it into everyone’s face takes sin to a new level. They have made a joke out of it. This stuff is unbelievable. If our parents and grandparents could see what we have allowed to take place, I can only imagine what they would say.

  19. Comment by Diane on July 25, 2021 at 1:54 pm

    Patrick said,
    “Drag is the misogynistic equivalent to blackface, yet women in America are not protesting against it. Hmmm…”

    Actually, I know quite a few women – in the lgbtq community – who’ve protested drag as what another post declared, “a mockery of women”.

    Just a thought – Some UMC folks might be surprised at how many people of faith are repelled by the various frills and frocks worn by clergyfolk in the UMC and other liturgical traditions. Most of my life was spent in a “no frills” tradition that shunned clergy garments, stoles, vestments, stained glass windows, etc. The wearing of such clergy-wear looks pompous and arrogant and is every bit a “turn-off” as those in this forum protesting a minister dressed in drag.
    Another thought for reflection : why is it a man in a dress is so distasteful when today, many women rarely put on a dress or own a dress? I’ve not worn a dress in decades. It’s perfectly acceptable – now – for women to dress as men. Susan B. Anthony was ridiculed for wearing pantaloons. She and others similarly dressed were termed “she-males”, ie, women expressing themselves as men. When I started teaching in a public school fifty years ago – 1971 – the principal of my school forbid female employees from wearing slacks/pants. Dresses and skirts, even “mini skirts” were acceptable. But not menswear, ie, pants or slacks.

    How is it society and most churches have evolved to where there’s no shock value among conservatives when women wear pants or slacks, cuts her hair in a more masculine style, but go ballistic when a man wears a dress? How is it OK for a man to have long hair, wear it in a ponytail (as is common these days), but it’s not OK for a man to wear a wig?

    Just thoughts. Oh, my ex-husband was a licensed minister. In the seventies, he let his hair grow past his ears. One rural congregation where he filled in as interim loved his preaching. A good many folks wanted to call him as their church’s permanent pastor. Some, however were hostile to his hair length (it would not be considered long by today’s standards). So those hostile “Christians” threatened to leave if he were called. Needless to say, my ex wasn’t called to serve that church. His hair wasn’t “manly”. (Some in the church spoke to us about the vote).

    Were they right in opposing his call based on his appearance? Just FYI, my ex-husband lost his right, external ear at age 18 ((years before he was a licensed Disciples of Christ minister) when he was diagnosed with malignant melanoma. The surgery removed his ear and tendons/tissues down his neck. His longish hair covered the unsightly scars and his missing ear. So-called Christians never realized the emotional scars they inflicted by their choice not to call him because his hair wasn’t “manly” in their estimation. Just sayin’

  20. Comment by George on July 25, 2021 at 3:40 pm

    Those types who choose to dress like Isaac Simmons aren’t making a fashion statement .
    They are making a perverted sexual statement.
    Yes Diane, times change as does styles. What was appropriate wear for church when I was a kid is a lot different these days. But when I see young ladies in church wearing their
    Yoga pants that show every curve and crease of their glorious bodies, I have trouble with that. Maybe fifty years from now, someone will pen a note about what an old grouch I was.

  21. Comment by David on July 25, 2021 at 7:12 pm

    Patrick Early Methodism reflected the rather “low” Church of England at the time. Many things we associate with that church today did not come about until the second half of the 1800s. Methodists seemed to have wanted to be more “mainline” in the twentieth century. The traditional pulpit-centered meetinghouse style building gave way to altar-centered churches around 1915. I have never encountered a photo of the common brass cross and candles on the communion table prior to about 1920. Methodist clergy did not start wearing robes until the 1940s-1950s. I see one supplier now offers a white outfit similar to what the Pope wears with a shoulder cape.

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