Sam collaborated with Parity in teaching and mentoring transgender teens in a summer intensive centered on the musical "Godspell." Now in his second year at Union Theological Seminary in New York, he is working as the youth programming coordinator for Parity member congregation First Presbyterian Church and interning at Broadway United Church of Christ on the Upper West Side. Following ordination in the UCC, he hopes to pursue a parish ministry steeped in theater and the arts.
"My dream is to work in congregational ministry, pastoring a local community. Through ministry and theatre-making, I hope to explore the relationship between worship and artistic programming, and how ensemble-based theatre can influence and amplify Christian liturgy. The more I think about congregational formation, the more I'm convinced that the reconciliation of queer bodies in traditional Christian space needs to happen through art making, ritual and breaking bread."
Mary Ann Robertson
As Parity's field education intern this spring, Mary Ann focused on reaching out to queer college students from conservative faith backgrounds. She will complete her MDiv at Union Theological Seminary in May on her way to doctoral studies in Christian social ethics. "I feel a strong call back to my home state of Virginia and my United Methodist denominational family," she says, and hopes to encourage her communities to nurture and love their queer young people.
"I was incredibly blessed to do my field education internship with Parity, where I gained a new understanding and appreciation for my own communities of accountability and for what it takes to run such an essential advocacy organization! I'm aspiring to continue my studies in Christian ethics and pursue ministry through teaching and theological education. I would love to one day teach at the university or seminary level, and I also care deeply about how churches structure their educational programs for young people."
Morgan was a Parity evangelist for us this past summer, persuading several of his Princeton Seminary classmates to join him at the "Be the Hope" retreat in August. He is in his second year of a seminary internship at another Parity congregation, Fifth Avenue Presbyterian in Manhattan. As he discerns ordination, Morgan is taking on a full-time role at Fifth Avenue as Seminarian in Residence with a focus in membership development.
"I’ve often felt that I’m not Christian enough for my church friends or even gay enough for my queer friends. Having grown up as a fundamentalist, evangelical Christian, I did not see that something was wrong with my faith when I began to realize I was gay -- I was sure that something was wrong with me. I decided that accepting myself would reject not only my Christian faith, but Jesus Christ himself. Parity represents the freedom and redemption I have since found. I am never too gay or too Christian or too anything, as Parity has helped me to see."
M.J. has been part of Parity's emerging pastors’ community for several years and attended our "Be the Hope" retreat in August. M.J. has an MDiv from United Theological Seminary of the Twin Cities. They serve on Session and provide pastoral care and preaching support to the clergy of Andrew Riverside Presbyterian Church in Minneapolis. M.J. is now in final assessment to be certified ready to receive a call, with the hope of a pastoral care/chaplaincy ministry.
"It's been a long process, and without Parity and the support I've gotten through its ministries, I wouldn't be at this point today! Without that support, I doubt I would be on the cusp of stepping in to my call to pastoral care."
Mads graduated from Princeton Theological Seminary in May and attended Parity's "Be the Hope" retreat this summer. A candidate for ordination in the Presbyterian Church (USA), he is currently serving two part-time ministries: He is the lay pastor for an LGBTQ+ Dinner Church in Plainsboro, New Jersey. And he is part of Feed Truck Ministries, Inc., an entrepreneurial ministry in Kingston, New Jersey, that focuses on hospitality and spiritual engagement with young adults.
"As queer people we know in our bones that the spiritual and the physical are inseparable. As a queer Christian I am called to work collaboratively with artists, makers, entrepreneurs and others who know God in the physical realm. At the Parity retreat I met collaborators who rejoiced and imagined with me, who dared me to risk, to be courageous enough to make manifest my vision and call: "I dare you, jump." The evening after the retreat, sitting at home at my kitchen table, I knew already had."
Between his first and second years at Princeton Theological Seminary, Max attended Parity's "Be the Hope" retreat at Stony Point, New York, in August. He is now a student minister at the Brick Presbyterian Church in New York City (a member congregation of Parity) and is pursuing ordination in the Presbyterian Church (USA). He intends to pursue parish or collegiate ministry. He intends to pursue parish or collegiate ministry.
"Being a part of Parity has helped me to connect with many other people in ministry and the LGBTQ+ community. I always wished growing up that I could see just one person in ministry like myself. Now I will get to be that person for some young child out there. I will get to be the living example of God’s diversity of love."
Sammie had just completed a year with the PC(USA) Young Adult Volunteer program, and was about to begin her first year at Vanderbilt Divinity School in Nashville, when she attended Parity's "Be the Hope" retreat -- an experience that she says "helped to ground me in my queer faith." An inquirer for ordination, Sammie feels called to camp and conference ministry more than traditional congregational ministry -- but she’s open to changing her mind.
"I am in my first semester at divinity school, so naturally I am deconstructing my beliefs and learning to contextualize them. I am really happy that I chose to not go to a Presbyterian seminary, because I am finding that I am solidifying my Presbyterian roots and learning from students of a wide range of faith traditions. Parity has been helpful because I have been enfolded into a queer community of faith leaders."