LGBT Affirmative Ministries in African-American Communities

“… affirmative ministries. What lessons can they teach other pastors of HBCs, and the social workers who work with LGBT and non-LGBT African Americans? ”

Team Members/Contributors

Terrence O Lewis West Chester University of Pennsylvania Contact Me

About this project grant for researchers

A small group of African-American pastors and HBCs have forged a new theological path that embraces LGBT individuals as equal in the eyes of God, deserving of full inclusion in the church, and deserving of equal civil and human rights. Unfortunately, these pastors and HBCs have experienced significant intra-community backlash for their ministries. Some of the negative responses have included significant declines in congregation memberships, pastors’ loss of employment and ordination, condemnation by national denominational associations, and loss of funding resources for their ministries. While there is an emerging

body of literature about their experiences, more research is needed. In the proposed project, I plan to focus on three primary objectives:

1. To increase the research knowledge about LGBT affirming Black pastors and HBCs

2. To develop a culturally-competent discourse between social workers and Black pastors

about the bio-psychosocial-spiritual needs of Black LGBT individuals

3. To explore the need for community-based participatory action research (CBPAR) about

LGBT-affirming outreach ministries and their impact on the lives of Black LGBT folk.

I will conduct a narrative interview study with 15 African American pastors who offer an affirmative ministry for Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender (LGBT) individuals and their families in the African-American community. Narrative research focuses on obtaining a deep understanding of the lived experiences of the participants. The primary research questions include:

1. What are the essential tenets of the pastor’s LGBT-affirming theology?

2. How do they enact LGBT-affirming theology within HBCs and the Black community?

3. How has the LGBT and non-LGBT Black community responded to their ministry?

4. Do social workers play a role in their LGBT affirming outreach ministries? If no, why

not? If yes, what roles do they play?