HRC Blog

History: Baptist Church Ordains Openly Gay Man

This post comes from HRC Religion & Faith Program Coordinator Joanna Blotner:

Historic news out of Kentucky this month: Maurice "Bojangles" Blanchard will be ordained on May 27, 2012. We don’t typically blog about ordinations around here but this is not your typical ordination occasion.  Bojangles has been called to ministry by Louisville's Highland Baptist Church and will be ordained as an out, married, gay man - a heartening evolution in its own right for Baptists and people of faith everywhere.

I had the privilege of accompanying Bojangles and the Kentucky delegation to their congressional lobby visits a year ago with HRC's 2011 Clergy Call for Justice and Equality, and to work with him again later that summer for HRC’s cross-country bus tour. During that time, we joined Kentucky Faith Leaders for Fairness and Highland Baptist Church's True Colors Ministry to host a convening of local clergy to catalyze the work of LGBT equality advocacy and accountability in Louisville’s faith communities.  From our first interaction, it was abundantly clear to me that Bojangles had an unparalleled prophetic presence and call to service on behalf of the LGBT community as well as all who are marginalized and hurting in society.  His vision, passion, compassion and natural pastoral and leadership talents are a true blessing to the ministry. 

Ordination in the Baptist tradition has always been a matter of congregational discernment and blessing, but even among welcoming Baptist churches it is still incredibly rare for an openly LGBT candidate to be considered for the title “Reverend.”  Highland Baptist Church, moreover, is nestled solidly in the “Bible belt,” in the backyard of the ultraconservative Southern Baptist Theological Seminary - making this month’s upcoming ceremony all the more extra-ordinary!

We extend our heartfelt congratulations (and gratitude) to Bojangles and Highland Baptist Church for breaking barriers in support of full equality.  Learn More.

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