A Chat with Dorothy Awards Honoree Rev. Marilyn BowensPublished Jan 21, 2011
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As part of our series of articles on the Dorothy Awards, we are reviving our interviews with our honorees so you can get to know them a bit better. Co-President Thomas Donato asked honoree The Rev. Marilyn Bowens some questions recently.
How long have you lived in Connecticut?
3 years, this month.
Where does your passion for LGBT issues come from?
From the years I lived in terror of God because of what I’d been taught about how God feels about homosexuality. When I came to understand that none of it is true, and that a right understanding of the Bible does not support what I was taught, it became my passion to minister to others to re-educate them, to promote healing from Bible abuse, and to facilitate their having intimate, peaceful, and authentic relationship with God.
What do you love most about your church, the MCC?
At the Denominational level, I love MCC’s commitment to being warriors for social justice. Our church does amazing work, in the U.S. and all over the world, toward that end. At MCC-Haven, I love the tenacity and faithfulness by which our members and friends keep our church alive through challenges that have brought many churches down. We have a keen understanding of ourselves as the “church of last resort” for many people in our community, and a heartfelt desire to be here for those whose spiritual needs are best served by the ministry we offer.
Tell us something about you that would surprise us!
Most people are surprised to learn that I am an off-the-scale introvert. I think there’s an assumption that people who interact with people a lot, and do a lot of public speaking, would be extroverted in nature and comfortable in social situations with people they don’t know well. I am naturally shy and quiet. One of the reasons that I am certain of my calling is that I could not do what I do absent Divine empowerment.
How have you seen LGBT life in the New Haven and surrounding areas change since you have been the pastor of the MCC?
If this question is asking for changes that flow directly from my pastorate of MCC-New Haven, I honestly am not aware of having made a difference on that large a scale. I’d like to think that I’ve contributed something to the spiritual well-being of those to whom I’ve been privileged to minister. If, on the other hand, you are asking about changes in LGBT life in the area during the period of time that I’ve been here, I would observe that the battle for marriage equality was won a few months after I arrived. That certainly has brought about profound and positive change in the lives of LGBT’s throughout CT.
What percentage of your congregation identifies as LGBT?
At this time, I believe that we are 100% LGBT. If any of our members and friends are straight, they haven’t come out to us, yet.
What are some of your favorite things to do in New Haven?
I absolutely love to be around water, so when weather permits, I enjoy walks, picnics – anything where I can see the water. I also love to eat, and I enjoy exploring the wide variety of cuisines that are available here. I enjoy the theater here, as well.
Do you use Facebook?
Yes, sort of. I have a Facebook page, and I “check in” to see how my friends are doing. I am not one to post something regularly.
Who or what inspires you?
I find inspiration from many people and sources. At this point, certainly God; my partner, BJ; and my congregation and others to whom I’ve ministered are chief sources of inspiration for me. I am constantly inspired by the work and courage of several past and present leaders of MCC and the radically-inclusive church movement, including Rev. Elder Troy Perry, Rev. Elder Nancy Wilson, and Bishop Yvette Flunder and her partner, Mother Shirley Miller. I am also inspired by my memories of my parents, the late Bishop Joseph T. Bowens and the late Mrs. Clara Washington Bowens. Finally, as long as I know that there are LGBT people suffering from the belief that God is displeased with them because they are LGBT, I will remain inspired to do all I can to change that for as many people as I can.
Where do you hope to see yourself in five years?
I don’t think I can answer that in the way that most people could, because my understanding of what it means to devote one’s life to God’s service is that it’s about remaining open to serve wherever I am called to serve at any given time. That is what brought me here, and my intent is to remain open to whatever I understand to be God’s will for me throughout my life.
4 comment(s) on this page. Add your own comment below.
Rev. Marilyn continues to be an inspiration to us all...She is a very holy and wise person. Her sermons each Sunday helps each of us in our congregation to grow spiritually and to support and care for each other.
Reverand Mariyln, is so genuine. She is down-to Earth and caring. I don't know of anyone more dedicated to her church as a whole than she. Truly, Rev. M. deserves this award not only for her dedication for her love for the LGBT community, but her the spirit within. Her compassion for others is unflagging; indeed she is a true humanitarian to all she knows and meets. I am honored to be a member of MCCNH.
Just wanted to say thanks for being kind last night at the party,on York street, although I am not a member of your church community, I was the white lady you let up the stairs to find my crazy drunk cousin, I was the one with the conceled brace on my leg, I looked up your church when I got home,and just wanted to say thanks!