A Detroit Bishop is stirring up controversy over her same sex marriage. Bishop Allyson D. Nelson Abrams decided to step down from her position as pastor of the Zion Progressive Baptist Church so her marriage wouldn’t cause a distraction from the overall mission of the church.
In an interview with News One, Bishop Abrams said she married Bishop Emeritus Diana Williams in Iowa the past March but chose to keep it to herself until she was ready to reveal it to the congregation. But rumors began to spread and she had to explain sooner than she anticipated.
”I could have been like so many people are and lied and said it’s not true. But that’s not how I was raised and, as a Christian, I was always taught to be a truthful individual. So when it came up I said, ‘OK. I need to be honest with my congregation and tell them truth about what was a great event for me.”
Abrams has always preached openness and inclusion but never spoke directly about homosexuality. She told the congregation about her marriage on October 6 and resigned then and there to prevent becoming a distraction. Abrams said after the speech she delivered several members of her congregation came up to her and offered words of encouragement and told her that they loved her.
Abrams, who was also the editor for the national publication, “The Baptist Progress,” resigned from that position as well.
Abrams said that during her tenure as pastor, she didn’t feel the need to preach about homosexuality.
Abrams who has three adult children and was once married to a man, says her marriage is her first relationship with a woman.
“I [have] been progressive in my theology and I got to the point where I was open to love whatever way that came.”
She told the Michigan Chronicle, the first publication she spoke to her marriage about, how much she loves her new wife.
“She is definitely my best friend, a wonderful person and is a support system to men in tremendous ways. We have a lot in common. We have similar visions, missions and goals. We complement each other very well in how best to serve God.”
Abrams said that man of the city’s pastors have supported her since her resignation but she did not name them. She’s also received plenty of critics but chooses not to focus on the negativity.
Abrams wrote this piece for the Michigan Chronicle:
“We are all made in God’s image and in God’s likeness, which means whoever you are, whatever you look like, whatever your gender is, whatever your color, whatever your culture, whatever you orientation (sexual), everybody is made in God’s image.
There are so many people who are wounded, so many people who are hurt, so many people have been cast out; people have been pushed to the point where they actually have tried to hurt themselves and have even killed themselves because of what the religious community says about who they are.
She continued, “One of the things that really hurts me is that for so many years, African-American churches, and maybe White churches as well, are saying that these people (gay) are going to hell. Some ministers (male) are being hypocrites because behind the scenes they are right there doing stuff. Many people, especially young people and the unchurched, when they come to church, want to be welcomed and affirmed.
“There is a difference. If I’m affirming you, that means that I am accepting you as you are and that you are free to serve in any capacity in the church as a member. If a same-gender loving person can clean the church, play the organ, sing in the choir, they should be able to lead the church…teach, preach and do all of that.”
For now, Abrams is still looking to pastor a church.
“God has called me to pastor. God has gifted me. God has anointed me and given me great talents and abilities. I know that God has clearly equipped me to pastor and work with people, so this is not going to cause me not to walk in the gifts of God.”
Though Abrams sees herself speaking at revivals or guest preaching, she’s not ignorant about the apprehension or outright aversion many in the African American community have towards homosexuality and same sex marriage. But to those critics, Abrams says:
“There is a scripture that talks about where Jesus says if you receive the one that I send then you receive me. So who can say who God has called and who God has anointed and who God has appointed. None of us can say that because none of us are God. We know God can use anyone he pleases, so I believe that we’ve got to get to the point that we’re open to whomever God sends. And if were looking for a word then we ought to be willing to receive it from wherever that word comes from.”