“OUT OF ORDER”— Queer Pastors Redefining Church


Queer Pastors Redefining Church

Amos Lassen

Amanda Blugrass’ “Out of Order” is a full length documentary that follows the journey of three queer members of the American Presbyterian Church. Most gay and transgender people know what it feels like to be told they are broken and to be rejected. This message many times comes from Christians. This documentary joins a group of queer future ministers at a secret retreat in the South. The critical decisions they make there will forever change the course of their lives. This is the first film to positively portray queer people of faith actively changing the meaning of church through alternative Christian communities, worship practices, and theological interpretation. This is more than a film about being gay or Christian— it is about empowerment. We are invited and challenged to stand up and start making a difference.

Today we are living at a time when America is divided over homosexuality and the bible and this is not just Christian America. Because of a recent change of rules, LGBT Presbyterians can receive ordination in the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.). As nice as that might be, there is another obstacle and that is finding a pulpit that will hire them since we all aware how long it takes for attitudes to change. These newly ordained ministers question why anyone would want to lead a group that does not accept them. They have the added task of trying to teach tolerance and understanding. (I might mention here that I really hate the word “tolerance” because to be tolerated does not mean one is accepted.)

While this is a film about Presbyterians, it is fairly universal to state that many LGBTQ people feel that religion and God has abandoned them. The three people we meet here want to be leaders and through their encounters with intolerance, they become “the authentic heirs of modern Christianity: faith, hope and love.”

 In “Out of Order”, we see the complex and painful struggles faced by lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and queer faith leaders as they confront bigotry and work to build loving support within their churches. Just because the rules have changed, that does not mean that we are welcome in all houses of worship and the sad thing is that we are well aware of that. Yet even with the way many feel today there are some brave individuals who are emerging as new kinds of spiritual leaders and who work at winning acceptance.

These leaders of this movement are young LGBTQ people of faith claiming a place in their church pulpits and being recognized in the everyday moments of church life.

We still need greater awareness and understanding of bisexuality, and more understanding about the transgender individuals since they are becoming more visible and demanding. In this film, we get to see the reality of gender transition and lived sexual identity as a person of faith.

With all of the secular and cultural victories that the LGBT community has won in this country, there is still disparity toward equality and acceptance within the Christian community. Some Christian denominations have rejected the movement toward equality for LGBTQ people in sacred spaces. Others have accepted structural changes that have created, to varying degrees, space for LGBTQ families in church life and embraced marriage equality. As a response to this, conservative activists are increasingly rallying support for state and local bills designed to restrict the rights of LGBTQ people.

Since I am Jewish, I have seen the tremendous changes made in the reform and conservative, the renewal and reconstructionist branched of Judaism. The Orthodox branch of Jewry is facing the same problems as the other religions. To say that I am amazed at the changes is an understatement. I really never thought I would see any of these changes I my lifetime. I know that telling others to be patient and things will work out is not what we want to hear but I have seen it happen over and over again. Whatever you believe or not, this is an important film and everyone needs to see it.


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