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LGBTQ pastor reflects on journey to serve the church

DONNA SIMON
Posted at 6:20 AM, Jun 17, 2021
and last updated 2021-06-17 08:16:22-04

KANSAS CITY, Mo. — A Kansas City reverend is sharing what it was like to come into a church and be a faith leader and a member of the LGBTQ community.

Rev. Donna Simon of St. Mark Hope and Peace Lutheran Church has a calling.

"I am trying to serve the church faithfully. I forget I am serving it faithfully as a lesbian because my primary identity is pastor," Simon said.

But her passion to serve a higher power was not welcomed at the start.

"Thirty to 40 years ago, there were no gay pastors in our denomination," Simon said.

Simon identifies as a lesbian, and being an LGBTQ pastor was unheard of in the early 2000s.

"In 1990, we had a gay man and two lesbians ordained in San Francisco, and those congregations were immediately put on notice, and in five years, which the amount of time it takes to discuss and remove a congregation, they were removed from our denomination for making those calls. Those were the last calls that were issued until 2000 when one of the predecessors called me," Simon explained.

Despite what could come, Simon took a role at St Mark Hope and Peace Lutheran Church.

"I showed up here in KC and the first day in the office, Aug. 30, 2000, I called the bishop and said I am really sorry because you are going to have to go through a whole process because you are supposed to remove my church," Simon said.

But, they didn't remove the church, they welcomed the new beginning.

Some were unsure of Simon.

"The Lutheran pastors who were just really supportive, really wonderful. There were other people who weren't ready for this change in the church and seeing me and having an in-flesh, lesbian out pastor meant the change was coming if they liked it or not," Simon said.

Since then, churches all over the city and country have embraced members of the LGBTQ community.

"Our church has to be willing to go to the ends of the earth and to bring everyone into this loving fellowship," Simon said.

Simon is now married with a son.