Queer Clergy follows the parallel journeys of the five, principal mainline denominations toward full LGBT inclusion. Here are five endorsements of the book written by an iconic figure from each denomination.
Rev. William R. Johnson was the first openly gay man ordained in a mainline church (UCC) in 1972. He has continued to serve as a pan-denominational spokesman for LGBT issues to the present.
“I have always known that this historical overview of the religious LGBT movement was needed not only to tell our movement stories to the masses but to make same-gender loving people aware of a significant but often overlooked part of their own history. This is a significant work by justice ally Obie Holmen — a singular contribution toward the full inclusion of LGBT people within Christian community and society. Many will be surprised by the breadth and depth of the movement in the Church.”
Many are familiar with the writings of the Rt. Rev. John Shelby Spong, retired Episcopal bishop. Fewer are aware of his own central role as the leading straight ally within the Episcopal church during the eighties and nineties, especially his vocal leadership within the House of Bishops. Bishop Spong writes this endorsement:
“It is a story that had to be written as the consciousness of this nation has shifted dramatically in its attitude toward homosexual persons. Minority voices within the various Christian churches became leaders in the struggle and bore their witness with courage, integrity and effectiveness. Obie Holmen tells this story in a gripping and fascinating way.”
The ELCA came into being on January 1, 1988 as the result of merger. Controversy over LGBT ordination immediately greeted the incoming presiding bishop, Rev. Herbert Chilstrom. Bishop Chilstrom writes:
“I can’t imagine a more comprehensive review of the journey of various churches in dealing with the issue of inclusion of gay and lesbian persons in the church than Holmen has encompassed in the pages of this book. Though deeply involved in these issues before, during and after my time as presiding bishop of the ELCA, I learned much from this book that had not come to my attention. I commend Queer Clergy to any serious student of the subject. This remarkable book will serve as the definitive text on the subject for a long time to come.”
Rev. Chris B. Glaser was also an early pioneer who continued with LGBT activism through the years. His own path to ordination was derailed by the Presbyterian Church in the seventies, and Glaser’s ministry turned to writing. He has authored a dozen books and served as editor of the award-winning Open Hands Magazine. Rev Glaser was finally ordained by the MCC in 2005, and he writes:
Queer Clergy is a comprehensive, carefully documented, and highly readable account of a movement that transformed mainline Protestant denominations into more welcoming spiritual communities for LGBT Christians. There is still much work to do, but Holmen’s well-written history reminds us of our basis for hope.
Rev. Amy DeLong is a Methodist minister. She is also a a partnered lesbian. After she officiated at a “holy union” ceremony of a lesbian couple, she became the subject of a highly publicized ecclesiastical trial in Wisconsin in 2011. She writes:
Author RW Holmen tells the story of the courage, persistence and faith of LGBT people and our allies as we have struggled for full and equal rights within the ecumenical denominations. Holmen has captured in detail our fervent belief in the grace of God and the gospel-strength of our cause. I am grateful that this narrative of our risk-taking saints and sages is preserved under one cover.
Holmen also reveals the well-organized, well-funded extra-denominational forces which have been at work to systemically silence our voices and the strategies used by right-wing groups to hoodwink otherwise decent people into believing their propaganda about the “dangers” of LGBT people. Queer Clergy tells the truth about how LGBT people have been used as a political wedge to raise fear and money.
This book should be read with a sense of indebtedness for those who have risked their worldly securities to help bring justice to our blasted, beloved churches and with repentance for our own complicity in systems of oppression.