Best of Houston

Rest of the Best: Houston's 10 Best LGBT-Friendly Churches

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7. Plymouth United Church 5927 Louetta Rd

According to the Rev. Teddy Kissell, Sabbatical Minister at Plymouth, The United Church of Christ was the first main-line Protestant Christian denomination to publicly come out in favor of Equal Marriage Rights for all. The welcoming nature of all people is a hallmark of their worship, and the Rev. Dr. Ginny Brown Daniel makes it a point to refer to all union ceremonies done there as weddings. As their website states, "We advocate for equal rights for all of God's children in regard to the rights, responsibilities, and privileges of all people to marry whomever they love."

6. Palmer Episcopal Church 6221 Main Street

Watch that video... I know it's an hour plus in length, but I swear it can change your life. That was a talk Dr. L. Michael White, a biblical scholar at the University of Texas gave right here in Houston at Palmer Episcopal in 2005. It delves deep into the meanings and contexts of the Bible as it relates to same-sex relations, taking into account much of the nuance in translation and the ideas of the world at different times scripture was written and interpreted. Palmer hosted that talk to huge audiences, and for that they deserve any number of kudos for their dedication to sober discussion of the issues at their very base.

5. St. Stephen's Episcopal Church 1805 W Alabama St

When the Episcopal Church adopted a new same-sex union ceremony earlier this year (Called the Witnessing and Blessing of a Lifelong Covenant), Jeff Meadows and Gary Patterson celebrated the very first of these ceremonies in Houston at St. Stephen's. It was officiated by the Rev. Lisa Hunt, herself the first female Episcopal priest in Texas and the sister to a gay man that has fueled her advocacy within the church for greater acceptance for LGBT people. Hunt is an active voice in changing the way people perceive gay couples, purposely mixing homosexual and heterosexual couples in mandatory counseling sessions in order to open up the eyes of folks that may have misconceptions about the realities of loving relationships.

Update: Reader Laura Thewalt pointed out that the first female Episcopal rector in Texas was actually Rev. Helen Havens, who handed off decades worth of trailblazing equality at St. Stephen's to Rev. Lisa Hunt. Thanks for setting the record straight!

4. First Unitarian Universalist 5200 Fannin

In 1954 First Unitarian Universalist became the first church in Houston to vote to desegregate its congregation, and that attitude of acceptance and unity has continued all the way up into the present day. They've had worship groups for gays since the '70s, and founded the Houston Area Teen Coalition for Homosexuals (HATCH), an organization dedicated to empowering LGBT adolescents, in 1987. "We're perfectly happy with LGBT parishioners," said the Rev. Kathleen Ellis via email. "They're on the Board, they're in the Choir, they're on the staff, they are greeters and ushers who count the offering, they do Social Justice as a ministry of the church, and they're involved in any other aspect of church life that you care to name."

See also: Same-Sex Marriage, Overcoming Homophobia and Playing The Floor Is Lava

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Jef Rouner (not cis, he/him) is a contributing writer who covers politics, pop culture, social justice, video games, and online behavior. He is often a professional annoyance to the ignorant and hurtful.
Contact: Jef Rouner