Greater NW Pride: More of my story, more of our story

Greater NW Pride: More of my story, more of our story


More of my story, more of our story

A few Sundays ago, I had a chance to visit and preach at Bridgeport UCC in Portland, OR.  I introduced myself as the LGBTQ Advocacy Coordinator for the OR-ID UMC Conference, and as the organizing pastor of the Community of Pilgrims Presbyterian Fellowship (USA) in Portland, OR.

I was not ready for the standing ovation and sustained applause I received. Unbeknownst to me, I was surrounded by mainly female-identified congregants, some of whom were former United Methodist Church pastors or Presbyterian pastors, along with members, many of whom were out lesbians and male to female transgender persons, who had either been previously defrocked, censured, or voted out of their denomination, or quietly told by a District Superintendent, Bishop, or Presbytery Executive that they should leave.

Indeed, the founding pastor of the church was a former Presbyterian who was denied ordination because she was an out lesbian woman who loved another woman. This community found each other and were committed to living church together. Their previous experiences reminded me that to live in “fear” of love is a terrible fate.

I want to begin by acknowledging and recognizing the pain of the countless lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer, questioning people who were denied a place and presence in the church. I also want to thank all those who made the sacrifice when they were brought to church courts and defrocked because they were gay; those who were told to “lie for Jesus” as they denied to their Board of Ordained Ministry that they were a lesbian; those who were outed by a church member because they were bisexual; those denied admission to seminary because they are transgender; or those who were refused baptism or being served Holy Communion because they were LGBTQ, or their parents were and are.

I want to thank the small group of you who are out and proud and serving the church as members, lay leaders, and clergy, and for you, our straight allies, who walk, work, and pray for us and this holy movement of the Spirit daily in the United Methodist Church. While I was not “out” as a gay minister when I was ordained in 1983, waiting until 1998/1999 to come out of my gay closet, I know that my coming out was made possible because I watched, learned, and took upon myself the act of practicing courage in telling my family, friends, and colleagues at Duke University’s Divinity School that I am a gay man.

This unique LGBTQ position I serve in today, and similar inclusive shifting going around the denomination, are possible today because of the sacrifice of many people made in the name of God, who created us all in God’s image.


Rev. Dr. Brett Webb-Mitchell is an openly gay Presbyterian pastor in the Portland area serving as the part-time LGBTQ+ advocacy coordinator for The Oregon-Idaho Conference of the UMC. He can be reached at Become a subscriber to the Greater NW Pride blog to get Greater NW Pride in your email box!

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Brett Webb-Mitchell

Rev. Dr. Brett Webb-Mitchell is the LGBTQ+ advocacy coordinator for the Oregon-Idaho Conference.

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