The purpose of this website is to help congregations welcome gay male pastors into parish ministry.

Research and experience show, even though openly gay male pastors are not widely hired, they can be very positive for congregations. Lowering the cultural barriers to hiring gay male pastors will help churches grow stronger in God’s mission for good. By getting familiar with the people and resources on this website, congregations will find it easier to welcome gay male pastors and begin healthy and productive ministries together.

The gender limitation for the time being is due to this being the core product of an academic project, which is explained as you explore further. Please scroll through and click the links to engage content interviews and resources.

Your feedback on this website is welcome by way of the blue “Feedback” button. Thank you.

How to Use this Site

There are three parts:

1. Videos: The Gay Pastor Welcome YouTube channel offers 150+ video clips of 12 gay pastors answering up to 20 questions about their experience arriving on scene after being hired by a church that never had an out gay pastor before. Watch the videos in any order according to your interests.

Visit Our YouTube Channel for random access.

Or, for a structured methodology, the interview videos are organized in two playlist formats for you to view accordingly:

A. Pastors’ interviews.
B. Questions asked.

Watch and listen to these pastors so that you benefit from their experience-based personal and professional perspectives.

Additional video playlists offer several resources from church and other sources.


2. Seven (7) Monthly Meet-ups: A good beginning will be the foundation for success in ministry together. There is a simple “lesson plan” for seven monthly group discussions on another page.

The purpose of the first gathering is to get established as a group and to prepare for the new pastor’s arrival. Schedule this one month prior to the start date. The remaining meetups, which include the pastor, are scheduled monthly for six months. Each month offers a starter topic. The meetings will benefit the covenant relationship so long as participants respect the structure and
each other.


3. Associated Resources and supporting documents for discussion starters:
Training Manuals:

  • Obear, K. Opening Doors to Understanding and Acceptance: A Facilitator’s Guide to Presenting Workshops on Lesbian and Gay Issues. Human Advantage, 1989. https://books.google.com/books?id=E935QwAACAAJ
  • Stewart, Chuck. Sexually Stigmatized Communities: Reducing Heterosexism and Homophobia: An Awareness Training Manual. 1st ed. Thousand Oaks, California: SAGE Publications, 1999.


Select Bibliography:

  • Bahr, David Paul. “Openly Gay and Lesbian Pastors Called by Predominantly Straight UCC Congregations.” Doctor of Ministry Research Paper, Wesley Theological Seminary, 2006.
  • Bawer, Bruce. Stealing Jesus: How Fundamentalism Betrays Christianity. New York: Crown Publishers, 1997.
  • Extraordinary Lutheran Ministries. Enrich & Transform. ELMVideo, 2016. Watch Video Here.
  • Kegan, Robert, and Lisa Laskow Lahey. How the Way We Talk Can Change the Way We Work: Seven Languages for Transformation. San Francisco: Jossey-Bass, 2001.
  • Lucia Ann McSpadden. Meeting God at the Boundaries: A Manual for Church Leaders. Nashville, Tennessee: General Board of Higher Education and Ministry, The United MethodistvChurch, 2003.
  • Mathew David Bardwell. Friedman’s Theory of Differentiated Leadership Made Simple. Video. YouTube, 2010. Accessed July 14, 2018. Watch Video Here.
  • Oswald, Roy M., and Barry Allan Johnson. Managing Polarities in Congregations: Eight Keys for Thriving Faith Communities. Herndon, VA: Alban Institute, 2010.
  • Sears, James T., and Walter L. Williams, eds. Overcoming Heterosexism and Homophobia: Strategies That Work. Between men--between women. New York: Columbia University Press, 1997.
  • A Time for Burning. Directed by Bill Jersey and Barbara Connell. Lutheran Film Associates; Contemporary Films, 1966. (Academy Award nominated documentary film) Watch Video Here.


Academic Limitations

This website is one part of an academic project, which means it is limited necessarily in scope. It is part of the dissertation project of the Rev. Kevin A. Johnson, a Doctor of Ministry degree candidate in the Advanced Pastoral Studies program of San Francisco Theological Seminary.

The volunteer interviewees are 12 out-of-the-closet openly gay men who are full-time or retired clergy professionals with credentials in good standing. Almost all are the first out gay pastors hired by churches not demographically LGBT-dependent. The one exception is the first out gay man ordained to ministry in the Christian church. Despite being ordained and qualified, he was not able to secure a call to parish ministry. His successful career was as a denominational executive. He was included in the project due to his valuable experience and historical significance.

The 12 interviewees were recruited through professional networking via relationships and referrals. While there are more individuals who would qualify for interviews, logistical and time constraints limited the number to 12.

Despite the academic limitation of gender and number, the insight and experiences of these men may be applied in other cases, such as openly lesbian, bi, and transgender clergy being hired by local churches for the first time. It is understood also that women and non-white clergy have similar histories and challenges of being hired for parish ministry. The pathway to full inclusion in clergy hiring is nowhere near complete. Hopefully, this project will be of some assistance on the journey.