Gay, married bishop and transgender pastor offer genuine welcome to LGBTQ community

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SCHENECTADY – Bishop Anthony Green, a Catholic, knows that a church can drape its entrance in a rainbow flag while offering an LGBTQ visitor who only walks inside only cold looks and a ” hello “sometimes awkward.

Green believes he and his deacons can provide a warm welcome and a unique perspective to LGBTQ devotees and Roman Catholics who no longer feel comfortable with the mother church. Green is openly gay and married. One of Green’s pastors, Grace Ferris, is a transgender woman who is a former Southern Baptist and former serviceman.

“I went from Gary, a male eye treat for women in my retirement community, to someone who many of them wouldn’t have eye contact with,” said a sad Ferris.

But Ferris also has a daughter who is proud of her parents’ courage during the transition. And, as her neighbors got to know Ferris, she also received an invitation to the Ladies Who Lunch Club in her retirement community.

“Inclusion” has been a mandate of the Apostolic Catholic Church in North America for longer than the word has come into common use.

Green and Ferris are helped by their deacon, Father Vic DeSantis, who left the priesthood decades ago when he realized he was in love with his childhood sweetheart, Mary. (They are always happy in marriage). They are all chaplains at the Saint-Pierre hospital in Schenectady. Throughout the pandemic, they worshiped in the hospital chapel streaming services. But now they share the Sunday worship space with the Eastern Parkway Methodist Church in Schenectady. The church is accessible to people with reduced mobility. Both congregations, CACINA and Eastern Parkway, look forward to welcoming the faithful in person to this shrine.

“It will be a hard sell for people who have been alienated by organized religion, but these are exactly the people who we think would love to worship with us,” Green said.

The Mother Church was founded in Brazil in 1945 by Bishop Carlos Duarte just days after Duarte was excommunicated by Pope Pius for long blasting the Pope’s silence on Nazi atrocities. (At the end of World War II, Duarte was furious at the number of Nazi officials who escaped war crimes trials by using passports issued by the Vatican to enter Brazil).

But Duarte had felt uncomfortable with the Roman Catholic Church for a long time. He supported democracy and openly opposed the military coup in Brazil. He was a social justice warrior who fought against poverty and racism and championed women’s rights during the desperation of the Great Depression. He believed that priests should marry and women should be ordained. And he wanted everyone who felt excluded from organized religion because of their politics or poverty to feel welcome. As its form of Catholicism spread to North America, CACINA reflected its values.

“CACINA provides you with a welcoming and inclusive spiritual home, if you: have been refused communion due to divorce and remarriage,” states the national website, “are a gay, lesbian, bisexual or transgender person and have been rejected, ignored or mistreated by your church, find your political beliefs in conflict with your church, seek a church that caters to and serves the less fortunate. “

Green’s small group of Albany CACINA members teamed up with Emmanuel Friedens Church two Saturdays ago to host a free monthly brunch for the community, especially for those struggling financially. About a hundred people came. Green says they plan to help Emmanuel with brunch each week.

And its CACINA members will help Eastern Parkway UMC on Election Day, Nov. 2, by greeting voters and giving them water and snacks when they go to church to vote.

Green is part of the Schenectady Anti-Hate Clergy who will be holding a panel discussion on October 21 at 7 p.m. at the First Reformed Church in Schenectady. How to have an inclusive conversation with civility is the topic.


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