AD Quality Auto 360p 720p 1080p Top articles1/5READ MOREGame Center: Chargers at Kansas City Chiefs, Sunday, 10 a.m.Bruce Pettit, who is helping organize the events, said he was disappointed Holsinger canceled. “He needs to see our witnessing perhaps as much as anyone,” said Pettit. “We do these vigils so we can turn people’s minds around, turn people’s hearts around.” Holsinger, a Kentucky cardiologist, was nominated for surgeon general by President George W. Bush in May. He has faced criticism for voting to expel a lesbian pastor from the United Methodist Church and writing in 1991 that gay sex is unnatural and unhealthy. At Senate confirmation hearings in July, Holsinger distanced himself from the 1991 paper, saying that was based on data available at the time and asserting he has “a deep, deep appreciation for the essential humanity of everyone, regardless of their personal circumstances or their sexual orientation.” The Senate has not yet taken a vote on the appointment. SAN FRANCISCO – Surgeon General nominee James Holsinger, who has been criticized by gay rights groups, is bowing out of a meeting of the United Methodist top court whose agenda includes dealing with the issue of a transgender pastor. Holsinger, president of the United Methodist Judicial Council, said he will not participate when the council meets in San Francisco this week because of concerns his nomination could become a distraction. “While I remain dedicated to fulfilling the role to which I was elected, I believe this is a time in which my service to the Council can best be demonstrated by my absence,” Holsinger said in a statement. The council’s docket contains several issues of interest to the gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender community and some church members are holding a vigil and other events to highlight those issues. The transgender case before the council involves the Rev. Ann Gordon, who spent five years as minister at St. John’s United Methodist Church in Baltimore before undergoing surgery and hormone therapy and becoming the Rev. Drew Phoenix. Phoenix was reappointed this spring by Bishop John Schol of the Methodists’ Baltimore-Washington Annual Conference, who noted that the denomination’s Book of Discipline said nothing about transgender clergy. The United Methodist Church bars appointing self-avowed practicing gay clergy and does not support gay unions. The council is looking at whether the Board of Ordain Ministry should conduct a review if a pastor changes gender, and whether the denomination allows transgender people to be appointed as Methodist ministers. The meeting ends Saturday and the decision is expected to be released soon after. Other issues on the docket include benefits for domestic partners of lay employees and who is included in the definition of “affirming all families.”160Want local news?Sign up for the Localist and stay informed Something went wrong. Please try again.subscribeCongratulations! You’re all set!