The Church Within A Church movement describes itself as a “progressive, Methodist-related movement” that seeks to create an inclusive church welcoming of all people, regardless of race, gender, or sexuality. In keeping with this commitment, this past Sunday, Church Within A Church oversaw the ordination of two women, one a married lesbian and the other the straight mother of a lesbian daughter.
Rev. DeLyn Celec’s Methodist ordination process was previously halted when she told the church that she was in a civil union with another woman. Upon her Church Within A Church ordination, she said “there are policies created by people, they're not created by God, that do not permit God’s call to necessarily be fulfilled.” Rev. Celec’s wife, Sarah Celec was present for the ordination ceremony and expressed her pleasure at seeing her wife ordained by an organization that “honors the relationship of two people [and] the call of the person being ordained.”
Rev. Robyn Morrison stopped her own Methodist ordination after her daughter, Kelsen Young, asked why her mother would want to be ordained in a church that would not allow her to preside over her own daughter’s wedding. Rev. Morrison explains her decision to continue the ordination process through Church Within A Church:
I feel called to sacramental ministry within the Methodist tradition. Sadly, exclusion in the United Methodist Church continues to harm me, my beloved daughter and my beloved friends, who are gay, lesbian, transgender, bisexual. I am being ordained through Church Within A Church because it is rooted in the teachings of John Wesley and Jesus who both tore down walls of exclusion.
cathy knight, the executive director of Church Within A Church, says that the ordinations “are in a Methodist tradition,” but not strictly Methodist. Because the Methodist Church does not yet ordain openly LGBT ministers, the ordination ceremony took place at St. Mark’s Presbyterian Church in Tucson, Ariz. The Presbyterian Church voted to change their ordination guidelines this past May.
GLAAD congratulates Revs. Celec and Morrison on their ordination and their ongoing ministry. GLAAD also encourages the media to continue to elevate stories about movements like Church Within A Church and so many others who are working to promote the idea that people of faith can be supportive of LGBT people. It is through stories, such as this ordination, that Americans will understand the support for LGBT people that comes from the faith community.