Oct 22, 2013 3:15 AM GMT
Michigan ChronicleBishop Allyson D. Nelson Abrams, outgoing secretary of the Detroit Council of Baptist Pastors, is a Christian spiritual leader, national speaker, theological teacher and author who has built a strong reputation in African American faith-based communities around Detroit and across the nation.
For more than five years, she has served as pastor of Zion Progress Baptist Church, located in downtown Detroit. On Friday, October 18, 2013, Bishop Abrams will officially step down as pastor.
Abrams’ decision to leave Zion Progress is based on the revelation she made to her congregation on Sunday, Oct. 6. She announced that she is now in a same-sex marriage. “With some buzz going around about my same-sex marriage, I wanted my church to hear from me before members heard it from other sources. I had already talked with my deacons,” said Abrams. “I knew that it would eventually get to my congregation. So I stood in my pulpit and openly talked about love, Christ, and that I was married, and it was a same-gender marriage.”
Michigan ChronicleAbrams quickly realized that her same-gender marriage had the potential to cause a deep divide, so deep that even families in the church were split on which side of the issue to stand on.
“It is not my desire to split the church,” Abrams said, during an exclusive interview at the Michigan Chronicle office.
“It really hurts me because I don’t want to be the reason for the church to split, and potentially for family members to be at odds with one another. Therefore, I felt that it was in the best interest of everyone to resign.”
Abrams also severed ties with other faith-based organizations in the region. After a nine-year stint with the Council of Baptist Pastors of Detroit, she stepped down, citing that she didn’t want to be the topic of proposed meetings on the issue, which could have ultimately caused a rift within the Council.
“I want to make it clear that I was not forced out or put out as some rumors have suggested,” said Abrams. “I’ve had many calls from people in Indiana, Illinois, Ohio and other places who have asked me about leaving the Council. I was not put out; I resigned.”
In addition, Abrams removed her church from the Baptist Missionary and Education State Convention, as well as the Progressive National Baptist Convention. She also stepped down from her co-editorship of the nationally published Progress National Baptist Convention magazine, The Baptist Progress.
Michigan ChronicleAbrams has proudly identified her new spouse as Bishop Emeritus Diana Williams of the Imani Temple of the African-American Catholic Congregation in Washington, D..C. The couple married in March of 2013 in Iowa.
“She is definitely my best friend, a wonderful person and is a support system to me in tremendous ways,” Abrams said. “We have a lot in common. We have similar visions, missions and goals. We complement each other very well in how best to serve God.”
Abrams added that when she (Abrams) was consecrated as bishop on April 14, 2012, the topic of same-sex marriage or gay relationships was never brought up, as it was not on her heart or in her spirit at the time. About a year or so before she was married, she became open for love, and love not necessarily from a certain gender.
“At some point you have to be honest with yourself,” said Abrams. “This is my first same-gender relationship. I knew the person before, but we were just friends. We had a great relationship where I began to ask questions of myself about a year ago.”
Abrams believes, “We are all made in God’s image and in God’s likeness, which means whoever you are, whatever you look like, whatever your gender is, whatever your color, whatever your culture, whatever you orientation (sexual), everybody is made in God’s image.
Michigan ChronicleAbrams, who holds Master of Divinity and Doctor of Ministry degrees from United Theological Seminary as well as a bachelor’s degree in mechanical engineering from Howard University, believes that two Scriptures are important to read as “scriptural references” as it relates to same-gender relationships: Luke 7: 1-10 and Matthew 8: 5-13 (about the Centurion’s servant). She also believed the Greek words “entimos duolos pais” when seen together mean beloved servant, which means male lover.
This, according to Abrams, is different from the other servants in nature of the relationship.
Abrams also said that during this time in history, the law did not consider it adultery when men had sex with men; it was only viewed as adultery when men had sex with other women.
“The references in the Bible that discussed ‘homosexual acts’ referred to popular male prostitution during that time,” said Abrams. “The men would have sex with the male prostitutes, often. This is what was discouraged in Scriptures.
“However, nowhere does Jesus or any text discuss males who engaged in loving committed relationships with other males that were not totally sexual in nature, but were simply love between two consenting individuals. This is what we see between many same-sex couples on today, and what is being fought on today.”