Rev. Sr. Elena Kelly, OSH is an ordained minister and the Founder and Director of the Stockton Transgender Alliance. She also serves as Abbess of the Order of St. Hildegard, a religious order of transgender women based in Stockton, California.
Rev. Kelly grew up on a farm and ranch in eastern Colorado, and was raised by her adoptive family in the Church of Christ. At the age of four, she had a visitation from the Virgin Mary that forever changed her concept of God, and when she was nine years old, she left the Church of Christ and began attending St. Mary’s Catholic Church with the goal of becoming a Catholic nun.
After serving in the US Navy during the Vietnam conflict, Elena connected with a fundamentalist Baptist congregation in California and came to believe that if she surrendered her life completely to God that her feelings of being in the wrong body would dissipate. She enrolled in Bob Jones University School of Theology and graduated and was ordained to Christian ministry five years later, while still feeling she was in the wrong body.
She moved to Aurora, Colorado in 1986 under the BJU church planting program and founded the Faith Bible Church where she served the street people of east Denver and held the first HIV/AIDS prevention classes of any church in the metro Denver area. After five years in Aurora, Elena moved to Stockton where she served for two terms as President of the Interfaith Council, and provided pulpit supply for a Filipino Presbyterian congregation.
The study of ancient languages, which began at BJU, brought her to a Hindu priest, and was the impetus for her study and resulting ordination as a Hindu Pujari and Priestess. After seven years of study, she published her thesis entitled “Combating Inner Terrorism: Strategies of the Goddess from the Devi Mahatmyam” in 2007.
Ms. Kelly transitioned from male to female in 2008. As a co-founder of the San Joaquin Pride Center in Stockton, she serves the LGBTQIA community of San Joaquin County. Over the last several years, she has been an advocate and educator for businesses and educational institutions who wish to ensure that they are meeting the needs of their LGBTQIA students, customers, employees, and clients. Elena is happy to serve any organization that wishes to expand their diversity awareness and ensure that they are offering an inclusive environment for everyone.
In January, 2014, Rev. Sister Kelly will be moving to Chiang Mai Thailand where she will be working to prevent girls and women from being ensnared into the sex trade.
(This biographical statement provided Rev. Sr. Elena Kelly.)