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Wednesday, October 5, 2022

Pastor left his church after appearing on HBO Drag Show

When Pastor Craig Duke took the stage in a small town in southern Indiana, wearing a pink cotton candy wig and a shiny dress under a white robe, he knew his performance would anger some of his congregation.

However, he did not expect his debut debut to end his role as leader of the United Methodist Church of Newburgh in the Evansville suburb.

Mr. Duke’s performance was part of HBO’s unrecorded show We Are Here, which documents LGBTQ people and their allies in small towns who put on a drag show led by three drag-all stars.

The episode, which featured the pastor, premiered in early November, in which he explained that he appeared on the show to “empathize, not just sympathize” with the gay community. Three weeks later, the church announced that he was “relieved of his pastoral duties.”

In an interview this week, Mr. Duke said that after the show aired, he received enough critical reviews to convince him that he could not continue to lead the church, which he said had about 400 parishioners. He said he was offended by the negative reviews, but he also received hundreds of letters of support.

“I have experienced so much love and acceptance and dare I say more in the drag culture and in the LGBTQ community than most people would experience in a church setting,” said Mr Duke. “Not a single person asked what I was doing there; it was complete acceptance. “

Mr. Duke last preached on November 14, a week after his episode aired. One of the leaders of the local church announced in a letter to the congregation dated November 26 that the duke would be relieved of his duties on December 1.

The Reverend Mitch Giselman, the Superintendent of the South and Southwest District of the United Methodist Church of Indiana, wrote in a letter that he received many messages both in support and criticism of Mr. Duke’s actions.

Mr. Giselman said that the pastor did not retire or was fired, but that his salary was significantly reduced and he and his family will have to leave the pastor’s home by February 28th. the moral consequences of Reverend Duke’s actions, he was not found guilty of any wrongdoing or other violation of the United Methodist Book of Discipline, ”wrote Mr. Giselman.

The pastor’s supporters have created an online fundraiser that has raised over $ 56,000 as of Wednesday morning. He said that any money raised over and above the $ 30,000 target to help his family will go towards building a new religious community in the city that he hopes will be more open.

A public split in this congregation occurred during an impasse over the rights of LGBT members of the United Methodist Church, which has nearly 13 million members worldwide. About half of them are located in the United States.

Ahead of the 2020 meeting of global delegates, a group of church leaders have proposed a division of the church, citing “fundamental differences” over same-sex marriage. But the discussion on this issue has been postponed for almost two years due to the coronavirus pandemic.

A proposal to create a denomination that continues to outlaw gay marriage and the ordination of gay and lesbian clergy is scheduled to be discussed at the church’s general conference in August 2022.

The interim pastor of the United Methodist Church of Newburgh, Rev. Mark Dicken, said the Methodist church “unfortunately” has fought over the issue for over 40 years.

“Unfortunately, the highly conservative wing of the United Methodist Church has been wedged into a rather draconian position in its attempt to control the clergy and their LGBTQ ministry,” said Mr. Dicken.

Mr. Dicken worked at the Newburgh church from 2004 to 2011 and retired to lead the congregation again.

“The tribalism and polarization that is happening in our culture, especially in our political culture, has permeated the church,” he said.

On HBO’s 2020 Emmy-nominated show, three resistance stars, Shangela, Bob the Dragon Queen and Eureka O’Hara, confront these units, mentoring people for the final show. All three posted messages in support of Mr. Duke after it became known that he was leaving office.

O’Hara, who was the pastor’s mother or mentor, said: on twitterCraig is an amazing person and deserves the same love he shares with everyone around him.

The pastor, who used Joan of Arc O’Hare as his name, was nominated for the show from the Evansville Pride group. He said that he had never heard of the show, but decided to take part in order to share the message of God’s unconditional love and support his daughter, who identifies as a pansexual.

He said that the negative response from some members of the congregation was especially painful because of the way he hurt his daughter. But the family “sticks together,” he said, and was overwhelmed by the flood of support.

He said he was grateful for his drag and drop experience.

“It was real, it was not a vaudeville, it was powerful as they taught me, it was cruel, it was authentic,” said Mr. Duke.

World Nation News Desk
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