Bishop Allyson D. Nelson Abrams has officially resigned from her post at Zion Progress Baptist Church in Detroit, Mich., after announcing earlier this month that she is married — to another woman.
Abrams, 43, the church’s first female pastor, stunned congregants when she told them about the lesbian relationship — one that she claims unfolded following a personal evolution on her views surrounding same-sex attraction.
Oct. 18 was her final day at the church after pastoring for just over five years, according to the Michigan Chronicle. On Sept. 24, just weeks before she resigned, she tweeted about her five-year anniversary.
Now, that tenure has ended.
The preacher was previously married to a man, but told her followers on Oct. 6 that she is now in love with Diana Williams, a member of the Imani Temple African-American Catholic Congregation in Washington, D.C., a house of worship that splintered from the Catholic Church.
The two apparently married in Iowa back in March where gay marriage is legal, the Detroit Free Press reports. Abrams waited seven months to tell her congregants.
The pastor’s decision to come out was made after some members of the church found out about the marriage and began discussing the matter. Abrams claims she resigned in an effort to temper the fallout, as division and debate over her love life were dividing the flock.
“I know how important it is for congregations to stay together,” she said in an interview with the Detroit Free Press. “I didn’t want to split the church any further over this issue.”
The pastor said her views about sexual orientation and love changed about a year ago and that she is not interested in labeling her orientation.
“I progressed in my theology and came to the point where I would love whichever came to me,” she told the Free Press. “I wasn’t just open to [a specific] gender, I was open to love in whatever way the Lord would bless me.”
As a result of this evolution, Abrams doesn’t see a conflict between the Bible and gay marriage. On her website, the faith leader has a long explanation of her coming out and the general handling of same-sex relations in religious circles.
“Recently it became known to many that Bishop Allyson Abrams married her best friend in March 2013. Her best friend is female and many people in the religious community have raised questions about her ability to be able to serve as a pastor being that Her Grace is now in a ‘same gender’ marriage,” the statement reads.
“The religious community must understand that we are NO LONGER UNDER GRECO-ROMAN LAW. We have been released from that and have moved into another era and understanding,” it continues.
The text goes on to provide scriptural context to corroborate the pastor’s belief that committed homosexual relationships are permitted. It notes that anyone who embraces Jesus will be “accepted into God’s realm” and that one can be both gay and a Christian.
Some religious leaders disagree, though. Pastor Elder Levon Yuille of The Bible Church in Ypsilanti, Mich., told the Detroit Free Press that gay marriage runs contradictory to scripture.
“To be in accordance with scripture, she would have to give up that type of homosexual lifestyle,” he said of Abrams.
Abrams said she respects those who disagree with her, but she plans to continue preaching, as she believes God has called her to ministry.
She also stepped down from her role as secretary of the Council of Baptist Pastors of Detroit and Vicinity and relinquished her position as co-editor of the magazine of the Progressive National Baptist Convention, The Huffington Post notes.
Abrams’ views appear to be liberal on a number of social and political issues. On Oct. 1, she tweeted, “Racist, discriminatory haters have refused 2compromise &caused a govmnt shut down simply becuz they don’t want POTUS 2have success as Pres.” She repeatedly praises President Barack Obama on her Twitter feed as well.
(H/T: Detroit Free Press)