A fiery female Baptist pastor from Detroit shocked conservatives in her church and triggered a rift among the membership when she resigned after revealing she married a female bishop from Washington, D.C several months ago, charging that the Bible supports it.
Bishop Allyson D. Nelson Abrams was once married to a man and become the first female pastor of the Zion Progress Baptist Church, according to the Detroit Free Press.
On Oct. 6, however, Abrams, who is also a mother, revealed to the congregation she had pastored for five years that she was in love with Diana Williams, a bishop emeritus with the Imani Temple African-American Catholic Congregation in Washington, D.C. She resigned after revealing her Sapphic nuptial to Williams, which took place in March in Iowa where same-sex marriage is legal.
She also resigned as secretary of the Council of Baptist Pastors of Detroit and Vicinity, an influential group of African-American Christians in metro Detroit. She stepped down as co-editor of the magazine of the Progressive National Baptist Convention as well, according to the report.
Abrams, who holds a doctorate degree in ministry and a degree in mechanical engineering from Howard University, shared scripture with the Detroit Free Press in arguing that homosexual relationships are allowable in Christian practice. She pointed to St. Luke 7:1-10 which speaks to the love a man has for his male servant.
"We all know that we've been made in God's image, and so no matter what you look like, no matter who you are, no matter what your orientation is," people should be free to love who they want, she explained to the Detroit Free Press.
"Love is something that's supposed to be unconditional," she explained. "And as Christians, if anybody is supposed to be loving, we are."
She noted that her theology had evolved over the years and her concept of love and sexual orientation changed "a little over a year ago."
"I progressed in my theology and came to the point where I would love whichever came to me. I wasn't just open to (a specific) gender, I was open to love in whatever way the Lord would bless me," she said.
She said she resigned because she didn't want to cause a rift in the church, but she had already done that when she exchanged vows with Diana Williams in March and didn't tell the church and some members found out what she had done before she made the Oct. 6 revelation. Some of the members she said supported her decision while others disagreed with her gay marriage.
"Bishop Abrams is a very intelligent, conscientious and progressive minister," the Rev. Charles C. Adams, pastor of Hartford Memorial Baptist Church, noted in the report. "She has done a lot to people.
"She, herself did not seek to make this an issue," he explained. "It was an issue that from my understanding was ignited by rumors and innuendos ... somebody looking up the marriage certificate on the Internet."
Other ministers were not as supportive.
Elder Levon Yuille, pastor of The Bible Church in Ypsilanti, dismissed gay marriage as "diametrically opposed to the teachings of the Bible," and argued that Abrams should give up her lesbian relationship or stop teaching.
"To be in accordance with scripture, she would have to give up that type of homosexual lifestyle," he said.
Abrams, however, maintains that she will continue teaching and doing what God called her to do.
"People have the right to interpret scripture whatever way they please," said Abrams. "I respect difference of opinions.
"I'm still going to preach and teach and do what God has called me to do," she said.