Baptist Bishop Who Quit After Her Gay Marriage Is Now Pastor of New 'Inclusive' Church

A Baptist bishop in Michigan, who resigned from her Detroit church after marrying a woman bishop from another church last year, has started a new congregation in Maryland, which is reaching out to the LGBT community across the country.

Bishop Allyson D. Nelson Abrams, who quit Zion Progress Baptist Church in Detroit last October, is now pastor at Empowerment Liberation Cathedral in Silver Spring, Md., according to Detroit Free Church.

Her new church, which is part of the Metropolitan Community Church denomination, has attracted about 100 members and she is connecting online with the LGBT Christian community across the United States, the newspaper says.

Abrams, who was earlier married to a man and also has three children with him, married Diana Williams, a bishop emeritus with the Imani Temple African-American Catholic Congregation in Washington, D.C., last March without letting her church know about it. The Imani Temple started after parting ways with the Catholic Church.

The marriage took place in Iowa, where same-sex marriage is legal.

Abrams, who announced her marriage in her church seven months later, says she was called to preach in several churches after she resigned from the church where she had served for five years as its first female pastor.

"I was amazed at how many people wrote me, and still write me," she was quoted as saying. It was then that Abrams thought of starting an "inclusive" church, she says.

An Episcopal church in Maryland, where she lived earlier, is allowing Abrams to hold worship services.

Abrams believes the Bible allows same-sex relationships, which, she suggests, could be seen as part of divine love, citing Luke 7:1-10 about the love of a man has for his male servant.

"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 was quoted as saying.

"People have the right to interpret scripture whatever way they please. I respect difference of opinions," she added.