A Mennonite church in New Mexico became the first church in its denomination to select an openly LGBT person as its head pastor. The Albuquerque Mennonite Church announced that it selected Erica Lea, an openly lesbian, to be its new lead pastor.
Lea is a graduate of Truett Seminary at Baylor University, where she was introduced to Anabaptist theology, and has served in a missionary and pastoral capacity for over 10 years. According to Mennonite World Review, the church stands behinds Lea’s “strong call to connect with and serve people affected by current immigration policies and racial, social and economic discrimination — as well as a call to provide a beacon and safe haven for the LGBTQ community.”
Top of Form
Lea’s hiring at Albuquerque Mennonite comes as she was in her third year of residency at Calvary Baptist Church in Washington, D.C. She served at Baptist churches in states like North Carolina, Texas and Wyoming. She also served as the interim pastor of Houston Mennonite Church while the church’s pastor, Marty Troyer, was on sabbatical.
“Erica is also passionate about Mennonite emphasis on peace witness and radical hospitality,” Troyer added. “Her ministry is rooted in the belief that all people are welcome, and that community is the deepest expression of God’s desires.”
Albuquerque Mennonite Church consists of about 150 members and officially became a LGBT “welcoming community” in 2007. However, it did not immediately join the Brethren Mennonite Council for Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender Interests.
There are over 70 U.S. Mennonite Churches that are “willing to state publicly that they are welcoming to all, regardless of their sexual orientation and gender identity.”
In February, the Allegheny Mennonite Conference licensed an openly married lesbian woman, who is an associate pastor at a Mennonite church in Hyattsville. The pastor, Michelle Burkholder, became the third openly LGBT minister credentialed for pastoral service in the Mennonite Church USA.
As usual, the church is divided over the LGBT issues.
“Likewise also, as it was in the days of Lot.” Luke 17:28.