A lesbian couple in Austin say the relationship between being gay and Christian should be “both-and,” not “either-or,” and toward that end they’re both seeking to be ordained as ministers — something that may be a problem in one’s denomination.
Annanda Barclay is seeking to become a minister in the Presbyterian Church (USA), which allows openly gay, partnered clergy, and Mary Ann Kaiser in the United Methodist Church, which does not as of yet, but she’s determined to forge ahead just the same.
She’s doing so with the support of Austin’s University United Methodist Church, where she is director of social justice and youth ministry, The Austin Chronicle reports. “Our church council voted almost unanimously to recommend her as a candidate for the ministry,” Senior Pastor John Alford told the paper. “Opposition has been almost negligible, but we are concerned.” Barclay said her home church, Central Presbyterian, has been supportive as well.
Mary Ann and Annanda
Still, many religious bodies have a long way to go with acceptance of LGBT people. Barclay and Kaiser plan to wed this fall in Maryland, where same-sex marriage is legally recognized, but neither of their denominations solemnizes same-sex marriages. The Presbyterian Church has a ritual of blessing for same-sex unions, but does not consider them marriages.
Both have struggled with whether to remain affiliated with churches, given organized religion’s poor record on LGBT rights and social justice in general, but they see the situation as changing for the better.
“It has really changed a lot in the last few years,” Kaiser told the Chronicle. “Hopefully, as the church becomes more inclusive, people will become slowly more comfortable revealing parts of our lives that are not traditionally allowed or even known about.” Added Barclay: “Dualism is an unfortunate reality, that people think they have to live that way, queer and straight alike. My hope is that someday people realize that Christianity is not an either-or. I hope the church gets that. It's a ‘both-and.’”