Saturday, September 16, 2006

Church famous for firsts appoints gay minister


Sporting an earring, a tattoo of a cross on his arm and a rainbow garment, the Rev. John MacIver Gage does not look like the typical pastor. But that's OK at a church the FBI once bugged.

Gage, who is openly gay, will be installed Sunday as senior minister of the United Church on the Green in New Haven. While other Christian denominations have been torn apart over gay
rights, Gage's sexual orientation has generated little, if any, controversy.

"This church would love for me to find a nice man and settle down and host my wedding," Gage says. As long as he doesn't get too conventional.

The church has been in the vanguard of social issues since the days when the congregation hired the first attorney to help the Amistad slaves win freedom in the 19th century. The FBI wiretapped the church during the early 1970s when the congregation was protesting the Vietnam War and opening its doors to protesters upset over a Black Panthers trial,
members say.

The church is part of the United Church of Christ, which became the first major Christian church to ordain an openly gay minister in the early 1970s and 20 years ago declared itself
to be "open and affirming" of gays and lesbians.

"I didn't come and change this church," Gage said during an interview Thursday. "They came and they opened their doors and changed me. They provided an opportunity to come into ministry." Read More.

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