Category: Community Published on Tuesday, 22 October 2013 11:29 Written by Donald James/ Michigan Chronicle
Abrams hopes that the attitudes of African-Americans, especially those in the Black Church, will become more tolerant and acceptance of people regardless of sexual orientation. Yet, she knows that acceptance is a steep mountain to climb. "Some from the pulpit are making these people (gay) feel very small, making them feel that they have no love from God; that God is not going to use them or bless them," explained Abrams. "Some ministers are being hypocrites because behind the scenes they are right there doing stuff with them. I believe that there needs to be open and guided discussion. I believe that the African-American church needs to become open, welcoming and affirming to everybody."
Abrams continued: "Welcoming does not mean that you are going to tell someone what they are going to look like when they come up in to your church. If Christ said, 'come as you are.' That means if you have tattoos, a ring in your nose, you should be able to come to church. To receive young people in your church, or people in general who are unchurched than you have to welcome and affirm them in your church."
Some pastors disagree to a certain extent: "People have a hard time advocating for something that is biblically wrong," said André Sims, senior pastor of Christ the King Bible Fellowship in Federal Way, Washington, who has participated in recent rallies in favor of maintaining traditional marriages only. "Same-gender relations are wrong because of what God said about them."
Whatever side of the issue one is on pertaining to same-sex relationships and marriages, Abrams believes that God still loves them. "I believe that God is an all-knowing God and that He predestined things to come into our lives," Abrams said. "God created us in His image. I believe that God is an inclusive God and does not discriminate against anyone. If you look at the lineage of Jesus, there were all kinds of folks. I believe that everyone should be included in God's church. It the church that excludes people; not God."
Abrams, who was born in Birmingham, Ala., feels that many people believe that because someone is in a sex-same relationship that they had problems in childhood. "I had a great childhood," said Abrams, who grew up in a two-parent home that strongly believed in God and Baptist church doctrines. "I was not fondled or molested by anybody. I had healthy relationships with my entire family."
After graduating from high school, Abrams attended Howard University where she earned a bachelor's degree in mechanical engineering. She also attended Miles Law School for two years before hearing and accepting her call as a minister. She went on to earn a master of divinity and doctor of ministry from United Theological Seminary. In 2001, Abrams founded and pastored Speak the Truth Baptist Church, before becoming the first female pastor of Zion Progress Baptist Church in its 55-year history.
While Abrams knows that the Black church must change, she doesn't think it will be anytime soon. Therefore, she is now in the process of making decisions that she hopes will return her to the pulpit. "I probably will just leave the state and be a part of another denomination," said Abrams. "I have always been a Baptist; I love being a Baptist. This (same-sex marriage), however, does not seem like it's something that they want to work with me on. I've talked with United Church of Christ and Metropolitan Community Churches. They have language (in their doctrines) that says that they accept everybody and are open and affirming. Many people who are in same-gender relationships or marriages will often go to one of those two denominations."
Abrams vows to press on while continuing to serve God as she has been called to do. In some ways, she feels as if she being forced out of the African-American church because of her same-gender marriage. "The Lord, however, has not sat me down," said Abrams, who is completing her third book entitled, 'God Can Still Use You. "God is still using me do great things. There is nothing wrong with my heart and my spirit. I will still preach and teach, but it will be somewhere else. I will not stay in a place where people won't receive me. I need to be some place where people will love me and receive and celebrate my gift. My gift is preaching the gospel of Jesus Christ and helping God's people."
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