Marriage To Woman Leads Allyson Nelson Abrams To Resign As A Detroit Baptist Bishop
The pastor of Zion Progress Baptist Church on East Jefferson in downtown Detroit officially ended her five-year service Friday, the Michigan Chronicle reports.
Allyson Nelson Abrams, a 43-year-old bishop, told congregation members two weeks ago that she's leaving for a personal reason that stunned listeners, Donald James reports.
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.”
Seven months ago in Iowa, Abrams married Diana Williams, a former bishop of the Imani Temple of the African-American Catholic Congregation in Washington, D.C.
She doesn't discuss reasons for delaying the public disclosure for more than half a year.
Reactions from Chronicle readers include extreme condemnations as well as wedding congratulations. (A sampling is below.)
The Detroit bishop, a national speaker and author with her own website, also quit the influential Council of Baptist Pastors of Detroit, where she had been active for nine years and was secretary, James writes.
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.
She also stepped down as co-editor of The Baptist Progress, a national magazine.
The bishop spoke at the Michigan Chronicle office just north of downtown near Cass Park. The 77-year-old weekly is the first media outlet with the news.
Abrams 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. . . . “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.”
Worshipers have mixed reactions, she acknowledges. Some expressed disappointment and many voiced support, Abrams tells the weekly paper.
Comments posted by its readers also reflect varied views:
- "I respect your decision to marry anyone of your choosing." -- L. Sonny Bowens
- "God speaks against homosexuality several times in scripture and each time it is looked upon as a sin, not something good or okay. . . I am glad that the bishop is at least smart enough to resign from positions of leadership, because the bishop's behavior is a poor example of a follower of Christ Jesus.." -- Eugene McCollum
- "Congrats on your wedding Bishop Abrams! Peace and love be to the both of you. It's unfortunate that some (due to their upbringings) will never be able to understand how being gay or lesbian is a natural and normal thing. However it's the blissful happiness that you feel with marrying the person you love dearly for life that makes it all worth it." -- Zach
- "You're gonna hear a lot of flack and talk, but just know people can't judge you -- only God." -- The Winn Family
- "This is the sin that will doom you and all the world's inhabitants to hell." -- Christine Richards
- "God is just freeing her up to do a greater work without the hypocrisy that is so embedded in the Christian church." -- Darlene Franklin
- "Sin is sin, no matter how you sugar-coat it. Abrams, you don't deserve to be called a bishop. The bible clearly says that he who desires an office of a bishop should be a person of upright character. ... You are of Satan's brood that tries to pull people from the truth. We know who you are and who you are working for and you will not succeed." -- Njuguna John
- "You cannot be a true born-again Christian and be a homosexual or practice it or believe in it, regardless of how you twist the scriptures.." -- Cassandra Williams
For her part, the Detroit bishop says she believes “we are all made in God’s image. . . .Whatever your orientation, everybody is made in God’s image."
Speaking of her spouse, Abrams told the Chronicle:
“She is definitely my best friend, a wonderful person and is a support system to me in tremendous ways. 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. . . .“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.”