Bishop Resigns From Her Pastorate After Revealing Her Same Sex Marriage

I must say that it is truly an experience to be “outed” when you are a community leader and religious figure. I always knew that at some point I would have to share with my congregation that I married the love of my life—and that she is a woman—but I wanted to wait until the right time. In hindsight though, would the “right time” ever have come? 

I got married in March 2013 to my best friend.

It was truly a great day! It was one of the greatest days for me on my journey called life. I had to drive to Iowa to get married because Michigan does not allow same-sex marriages. Iowa was about six hours away, but no number of hours was too far to legally marry the one I love.

I knew my marriage would not be welcomed by some, so I held it until I felt “released in my spirit” to share my news. That day never came. Seven months later, I was informed by another pastor, who I considered a friend, that there was some “buzz” about me possibly being married to a woman.

I was totally shocked that my whole life was about to be exposed without my permission. It was like a snowball traveling down a very steep hill—the ball was rolling very fast! It got to the point where I knew that, as the pastor of my church, I had to inform my Deacons so we could discuss how to handle this delicate situation. Collectively, we decided to wait two weeks to present the information.

As the ball continued to roll down the hill, picking up speed every second, I let the Deacons know that I felt the best thing to do would be to tell the congregation immediately. They agreed.

On Sunday morning, October 6, I did something that I was not really prepared to do: I “came out” to my congregation during our worship service.

My congregation was shocked. Some were hurt and disappointed. Some simply could not believe it. But when I opened the floor for comments regarding what I had just said, some people stood up and shared kind words of expression: “Pastor, I love you. I support you.” One expressed being upset. Some said, “Pastor, I’m shocked, but I support you.” One person even said, “Pastor, do you, because so many others are doing them.”

I had remained faithful as I represented the church in our community—nothing had changed. Many across the city did not share this view, and they called to express their opinions to members of my congregation. Disclosures about my marriage caused conversations about my personal life across the leadership of Detroit, which began to feel like bullying to me.

I went into greater prayer about how to handle this situation in the church and in the community, and I heard God clearly. As a spiritual discerner, having had the same theological and doctrinal belief in the past as a Baptist (which had now changed), I knew that I needed to get the truth to the people of Detroit. I called the newspaper to share my side of the story because of the “buzz” going around in the city about my marriage.

Before giving my first interview to the Michigan Chronicle, the deacons and I agreed on a mutual resignation from me as pastor from my church because of the potential for conflict. Some members wanted me to stay and some wanted me to leave.

The church was split, which was the last thing I wanted to happen.

As pastor of the church, I knew that God would not want me to divide the church on this issue. I loved the members, I loved being the pastor to this flock, I loved being a leader in this community, I enjoyed the many wonderful programs we provided and gave at the church, and my heart was truly with the people. However, it was best to leave the church as one body, resign my pastoral position, and to allow God to speak to their hearts.

I was affiliated with numerous religious organizations that were not yet, as a whole, as progressive in their theology and Christology as I was. I therefore believed it to be best to leave rather than battle with these communities over scriptures and doctrine. Simply put, there would be no dialogue or discussion to see if we could come to an understanding on theological position or have a meeting of the minds. This is why I resigned from many of my religious affiliations. 

The one thing I am sure of is that I still have the same passion and drive for my ministry and the same anointing on my life as I had before my marriage. I am confident that same-gender loving individuals can lead God’s people and serve God’s church with integrity. As a matter of fact, I now have a double portion, because my spouse now enhances who I am in ministry.

I have often said that you have to be friends first before you can have a successful marriage. My spouse is my best friend, and she has been a great blessing and support system through it all. Just as much as my spouse enhances me, our commitment enhances my ministry.

It does not matter who you are, we are all made in God’s image. 

It does not matter what color you are, we are all made in God’s image. It does not matter what your sexual orientation is, we are all made in God’s image.

God created us in God’s likeness. And if God calls same-gender loving individuals from amongst the people to be leaders, who is anyone else to say that we cannot serve?                                 

Weapons may form, but the word of God says that they shall not prosper. We all must remember: “What God has for you – IS for you.” My spouse and I, while stepping out as our “authentic selves,” are given an opportunity to express love and support among the “least of these.”

God is granting miracle manifestations DAILY as we go on this journey. We have had an opportunity to witness to other pastors and ministers who are in same-gender marriages, but live in fear of coming out. We have had many conversations and received tremendous encouragement from other pastors who are still serving in the church and are in same-gender marriages. We have received an overwhelming number of text messages, phone calls and emails from ally and supportive pastors, who identify as heterosexual, but have told us that they support us, love us, and have a great degree of respect for us, and my honesty and integrity.

The support of people from across the country and around the world lets us know that God is an AWESOME GOD.

God is much larger than me or this situation. The haters have thrown their stones, but thanks be to God, the future of my ministry lies in the Potter’s Hands—God is still doing great things in my life.

I welcome any opportunity to speak on moving forward with an inclusive community. I welcome preaching engagements to share the gospel and good news of Christ. I welcome the opportunity to lecture on what it means to be a welcoming community and an affirming community. I welcome the opportunity to pray for the people of God.

I am open to this new level that God has placed me on and ready to move to help the people of God show the love of God all across the world. GOD IS LOVE.  I am prepared to serve ALL of God’s people with God’s help.

Please note that God will use you, change you, and shift you, even when you are not ready.

Point being—the CAUSE will find you. The CAUSE to stand up for justice. The CAUSE to speak out for human rights. The CAUSE to be a voice to the voiceless. The CAUSE to be a catalyst to bring forth change. The CAUSE to show love to everyone. The CAUSE to empower the least of these. The CAUSE to shift the minds of those who stand in the way of freedom, hope, power and love. 

The CAUSE HAS FOUND ME!!

Photo by Tyrone Holmes

Comments (30)

I feel you should have STAYED. The 'division' of God's Church you speak of will 'happen' w/ or w/o you. In actuallity it is NOT a 'division' imo. It is more of a coming-together in the name of JESUS...

In what appears 2B 'divison'...is NOT...again, imo. It is & could be a time of education & knowledge of the Love of the Lord.. TOGETHER..

If that's what the community needs, they will come back to her and ask for that kind of guidance. The spirit prepares the hearts and minds of individuals differently. Some shy from the voice deep within, and others hold it so close. I think she made the right decision.

Being 'outted' is a harsh and difficult process. It is nice to hear that you are moving through it with grace and personal fortitude. As a woman in a bi-racial same sex marriage I know how long it took me to decide to live a fully authentic life. Now that I do, I feel the power of transformation. Thank you for sharing your story. I am the lay leader of a O&A church in California. Any plans to be on the West Coast? We would love to have you preach!

Thank you, Bishop Abrams for living out and proud, and for being a part of this CAUSE. I wish you and your wife love and happiness. And I hope that you soon find a new inclusive congregation to lead.

May God continue to bless you in your ministry and in your marriage and give you the strength and grace to face all opposition. And may God change the hearts of all who cannot see your marriage, and the marriage of others, as the blessing that it is.

God bless you and your spouse, Pastor.

Let he who is without sin, cast the first stone. God speed woman of God. Your courage and faith will sustain and strengthen you continuously. Where some may scorn an individual for what they deem inappropriate the Holy One sees and knows there every thought, desires, lusts and
deeds. Walk on by faith my sister!! Love from Baton Rouge, Louisiana :-)

After reading your interview I would like to share my thoughts. The division within the church or potential division can be directly connnected to your decision to not deny yourself, your wants and desires for what was best for the collective body. Did it ever occur to you that marrying your spouse in secrecy spoke volumes about the validity of the act in the sight of God? I believe that sexually is one of many attributes that we enter this world with and/or are is influenced by outside environmental variables. Basically, your being gay is no different to me than a straight Pastor that has a wondering eye, or continues to participate in an adulterous relationship or a relationship that excercises outright fornication. As a Pastor, I would presume that you are well versed on what the scriptures say regarding sin, all sin, not just the sin of homosexuality? Why then would you choose to shelf all of that to be happy with you spouse? Did you ask yourself if that choice would make God happy? Would this decision effect those that you lead and provide spiritual covering for as their pastor? Would this decision send missed messages to others; especially younger more influential member of you congregation and those that follow the ministry that God called you to? I can applaud you for coming out and being truthful with yourself and your community however because man many straight sins still occur in the cover of darkness away from the watchful eyes of the church and community. So was it worth it? To be happy with your best friend it appears that you may have walked away from the platform God elevated you to to pour into his people and to His glory? How do you move forward? How do you be openly gay, married, and continue to spread the Gospel of Jesus knowing that you very lifestyle grieved the Lord to the point he decided to destroy cities as written in the New Testament? Has God changed? Has He somehow come to terms with sexual sins and changed his mind on your decisions to live this way?

It seems pretty apparent why she would choose to keep her marriage secret—many churches do not accept same-gender marriages, and their reactions can be quite awful. No one wants to be told that their adult, consensual marriage to the person that they love is invalid, or bad, or shameful, because some people think, based on a handful of Bible verses that have multiple interpretations, that all non-hetero-normative activity is “bad”. She probably faced quite a bit of unpleasantness when she came out. Interracial couples throughout history have faced the same problem, and yes, many Christians used the Bible to shame these marriages too. This does not mean that any secret interracial marriages that took place before the 1960’s were conducted out of shame. However, it is easy to imagine that couples in these situations would keep their marriages secret out of fear of the reactions of others—the fact that this Bishop had to leave her church speaks volumes about the validity of her fears.
As for the Bible verses that many people reference when shaming homosexuality, or non-hetero-“normativity”, more and more scholars are suspecting that the Leviticus verses are part of something called “The Holiness Code”, which is a doctrine of purity intended to separate the Israelites from their surrounding Gentiles. At the time in which Leviticus was written, the Israelites had adopted some rather distasteful rituals of the religions around them, some of which involved child sacrifice and cult prostitution, acts meant to appeal to these religions’ fertility gods. Many of the prostitutes involved were young men. The term for these young male prostitutes is “qadeshim”, or “holy ones”, but often this term is mistranslated to the blanket phrase “sodomite”, based solely on the sexual acts performed. This makes it sound like Leviticus bans all homosexuality, or at least same-gender love between men, as condemnations against gay women are strangely absent. Leviticus forbids the Israelites from engaging in activities that these fertility cults demanded, and imposes other strictures on them as well, in an effort to make the Israelites “more pure” than their neighbors.
Sidenote: the reprehensible behavior depicted in Sodom and Gomorrah is not condemned for the inhabitants’ homosexuality per se, but rather, the rape of guests (the city-dwellers banging outside Lot’s door aren’t asking to have a relationship with the angel guests, they are saying “bring them outside so that we can rape them”, and Lot’s response of offering his daughters in exchange is no less awful, by the way). Hospitality was an extremely important tenet of Israelite culture, and the rape of guests, particularly esteemed male guests, would be considered an abomination.
So some of the other laws in Leviticus, such as “don’t lie with your daughter” and “don’t lie with beasts”, are not only good codes of behavior, but they are also common-sense. It is understandable that God would set these laws forth, or at least as understandable as our brains can comprehend when it comes to God. Pedophilia and bestiality involve a party that cannot give consent, and incest produces genetic anomalies. And you should not cheat on your spouse, nor should you cheat with someone else’s spouse. Of course we should uphold these moral standards.

But many of the other laws listed in Leviticus are things that no longer apply to us—we no longer keep slaves (even though the Old Testament clearly considers slavery acceptable as long as they’re not your kin or countrymen), most of us are going to wear some kind of cotton-poly blend at some point, and we don’t stone people to death for blaspheming or talking back to their parents. These are laws that are supposedly considered acceptable by God. But the simple fact is that these last few laws, and the other non-common-sense laws listed in Leviticus, no longer apply.
You can counter with the verses in Hebrews in which Jesus states that the old covenant is obsolete, vanishing away in lieu of the new, so that’s why it’s okay for farmers to plant multiple crops in the same field, and for people to pierce their ears, and for men to ditch their beards. And that’s true. If you believe in Jesus, then you believe that the new covenant was ratified with his sacrifice. This means that many of the old laws set down before no longer apply, so if you want to take a trip to Red Lobster, that’s awesome, just be sure to ask for extra cheddar biscuits because they are amazing and proof of God’s existence, in my humble opinion.
Now, you can accuse Christians who accept homosexuality and bisexuality as cherry-picking the parts of the Bible that they want to believe, but the fact is, we all do it. We all cherry-pick. We all choose the parts of the Bible that we do and do not want to follow. All of us, every single one. Otherwise, we would still keep slaves, we would be forbidden from doing anything on the Sabbath, and it would be okay for a man to rape a non-kin woman as long as he took her as his wife afterward or paid her father a handsome fee. These are all regulations and rules laid out in the Old Testament, supposedly by God. You have referenced God several times in your post—well, these are the things that the Bible tells us God originally supported. Is that a world you want to live in, are these rules you want to abide by?
So how do we choose, based on Jesus’ declarations of the New Convenant, amidst some laws that do make sense and others that clearly don’t, which we should and should not follow? We have to use common sense. And while other Old Testament laws do involve common sense rules, rules that most people will probably agree are good (re: no incest, no pedophilia, no bestiality), you actually have to stop and think about homosexuality and bisexuality before you declare that out of all the laws and regulations we have discarded from the Old Testament, homosexuality is still a big ol’ sin. Why do you believe that it is a sin, aside from a handful of Bible verses that you believe say so? Because the fact is, it’s never really explored. So this is where common sense comes in.
What is bad about homosexuality? Incest, bestiality, pedophilia, these all involve a victim, just like rape, theft, and murder. Who is the victim in a homosexual relationship between two consenting adults? I guess you could argue both, somehow, but then, who is the perpetrator? You have two people, two non-related, adult people who want to be in a relationship together, so they are together. How are either of them a victim or perpetrator? Or maybe you say their relationship is bad because their sex cannot product offspring. I guess that means that infertile couples are bad too, or older couples. Or maybe you say homosexuality and bisexuality are bad because it makes you feel kind of icky to think about it, and you’re going to translate that as a “gut instinct”, or even “a message from God”. But your discomfort, your ickiness, and your personal beliefs are not okay tools by which to judge or govern others. So all you have left to point at are a couple of verses scattered in the Bible, and out of all of the stuff in the Old Testament that we have discarded from our lifestyles, you have decided—yes, you have decided—that homosexuality is bad. Well, that’s your choice. That doesn’t mean it’s okay for you to inflict your choice, or your judgment, on others.
So, that’s probably why this Bishop felt it was necessary for her to hide her marriage—because although she, and others, have gone through a complex journey to determine what is right and wrong using a combination of scripture and common sense, she knew that there would be many, many people who used specious reasoning, or no reasoning at all, to heap hate on her and her wife, because they choose to believe that homosexuality is bad. Some people say homosexuality is a choice—the fact is that believing that homosexuality is bad is a choice.

Well done, Georgia - you speak the truth. Thank you!

Shame on you. She made a mistake. To.not.live.authentically. Trusting that God loves her just as she was created. A gay woman. She was afraid of ignorant points of view like yours.

OH MY GOD….

She just inspired me to do something I have been ignoring for a minute. This same issue may be why she's caught my attention. I wonder how many other Detroiters living in Atlanta are paying attention to the things that happen in D-town? However, a close friend of mine is encouraging me

Because of Bishop Abrams, I can move forward and address something that is taking place in the lives of others as a social work student, and also my own life as well. Had this not have happened, who knows whether or not I would have grasped understanding and acceptance myself.

My final commentary is Thank you Bishop. You are one of a kind. Keep doing what you are doing because it will bring people together.

Bishop Abrams, I honor and bless your journey and your ministry. God has a mighty work for you, and I am excited to see where God takes you and the lives you will touch and change. May God bless and keep you; may the light of God shine on you and bring you peace.
Love and blessings to you and your wife.

I wish that I could talk to you. I myself am in a same sex marriage and I was raised in a Christian household. When I told my parents they basically told me where I would end up, even though we talk they don't want to hear about that part of my life. It hurts me deeply because I am happy in my relationship but conflict inside of if I am wrong or not because of how I was raised to believe that homosexual ism is a sin and we would burn in hell. I miss my relationship with God and just hope that I can get past this broken unsure place and move forward. Any help, suggestion, and/or advice would be great. Although I know you are busy.

Christina, I too went through this. I grew up in a southern baptist
Family. Church, Sunday school, children's choir, Wednesday bible study
Grandmother was the piano player. I grew up with a major foundation and live for God . So I lived my life a secret for 27 years . Trying to live two lives, Dr. Jekyll and Ms. Hide. Loving God and my relationship with him. So in my understanding I knew that God knew me before I knew myself and he knew I would be gay. I had to find a pastor and church that did not shut it's doors to me because I'm gay but opened them because I was . When a pastor parent or church turns u away they have yet to understand the love of God. God burnt down the city for the sin if homosexuality but he also punished a city for worshipping idol Gods. It didn't say he didn't love them anymore. People have got to get some understanding.

Let me invite you into the UCC (United Church of Christ) - where "no matter who you are, or where you are on life's journey you are welcome" and where we believe that "God is still speaking," http://www.ucc.org/index.html

Thank you for showing such courage!

Personally I feel this situation is deplorable. The fact that their are people filling the pews claiming to be christians yet cannot act like Christ and their Bishop feels forced to give up her career to keep the peace? In what other profession would this happen? In what other profession is this sort of discrimination allowed to occur in 2013? I faced this as church member in the 1980's and clearly nothing has changed. Where is the church leadership and support in this? Where is the fortitude to stand up to the negatives and say "you know what? Don't like? Leave!!" No, the church stands by not wanting to create a ripple (yet that is exactly what Christ would have done) and a valuable member of the church family is forced to leave? As Desmond Tutu said; the gospel was sent to make comfortable the uncomfortable, and to make uncomfortable the comfortable. This is 2013. The resignation of those who are causing the split should be accepted, not that of the Bishop. Why is Allyson having to be the one to back down. Shame on the church, shame on the congregation and shame on the leadership.

Dear Bishop, Thank you for your words. My spouse is Rev. David Weekley, one of two openly OUT transgender clergy in The United Methodist Church. David retired this year after 30 years of wonderful ministry. The last two were a strain however, as there was much division and push back from some in the UMC who would have preferred we stayed IN the closet. We believe God is leading us and trust the same for your journey. You and your wife, denomination, our denomination and our world are in our prayers. Blessings as you live into your new normal and continue to witness to God's ALL inclusive love for creation.
Deborah

I disagree with you resigning. I believe you should fight the fight. God knew what you were going to do before you did it. Period. Love is love. There was a pastor that made it clear he was strongly against same sex anything. That same male pastor made moves on many men within the congregation. Once a certain male made it clear he was not interested in men, after helping this male with his living situation, the pastor made himself look helpless on the side of the road one night. The wife of the man he helped saw him on the side of the road and picked him up, as he is a community leader. Dont you know that pastor killed that woman for the male member of the congregation. Stay strong. Be well.

Once, you were "Bishop Abrams," but now that you have acted faithfully to forge a new covenant with God, you should be called "Bishop Abrahams" - author of many nations who will be faithful to God in contrast with the faithlessness and limited vision of those around you. Do not be concerned about the division in the church that was left in the wake of your becoming true to yourself and your God. Remember the words of Jesus, and take them to heart: "Do you think that I have come to bring peace to the earth? No, I tell you, but rather division! From now on, five in one household will be divided, three against two and two against three; they will be divided:
father against son and son against father, mother against daughter and daughter against mother, mother-in-law against her daughter-in-law and daughter-in-law against mother-in-law" (Luke 12.51-53). Fear not, "Bishop Abrahams", for God is with you - and your partner - as you are with God.

My Dear Bishop I wish all the best for you and your wife I live and work in Dubuque IA and we could sure do with somebody like you here. Starting a open and affirming Church. We do have one in town but it is open to even those that believe in things that I am not comfortable around. Also there are amongst us ones who work on Sunday Mornings and nobody offers us an alternative except to carry on and do what we have been doing and that is pray to Father every day but I do miss the fellowship of like minded folks

SO HAPPY FOR YOU,JUST AS LONG AS YOU ARE HAPPY THATS ALL THAT MATTERS..

Stay strong and continue to do what God has called you to do in spite of the naysayers, it all comes with the territory.

Hi everyone, since there are a great number of people here who support my Bishop, check out this site and help her out. She is doing what God has told her to do. She is starting Empowerment Liberation Cathedral in North Las Vegas, Nevada. She will also have to relocate. Please do whatever you can in the regard of giving. Lets ALL pitch in!!!! See the link:

http://www.gofundme.com/5j74zk

God bless you! Maybe you could find a new church; are you familiar with the United Church of Christ? "No matter who you are, or where you are on life's journey, you are welcome here". We welcome all people including LGBT and we have gay ministers.

“Pastor, do you, because so many others are doing them.” God bless.

So wonderful that you have found true love and happiness, so sad that you felt the need to resign. God knows your heart . I wish for you and your spouse many years of happiness together. May God continue to bless you both.

Ma'am, I truly believe that you will accomplish anything you set your mind to. I hope you're doing what the Lord has placed on your heart. Where ever He leads you and your loved one-go. Go with the certainty that HE is guiding your way. I wish you both all the love, peace and joy that you could possibly want. God bless you both.

Post new comment