LET MY PEOPLE IN by Rose Mary Denman


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A woman's forceful account of her quest for spiritual and emotional fulfillment and her widely publicized challenge of the United Methodist Church's ban on ""self-avowed, practicing"" homosexual ministers. Denman offers little introspection as to what motivated her seemingly compulsive life choices. She does tell us that she aspired to become a nun but joined the Air Force shortly after high-school graduation; then married an unfrocked Franciscan friar, produced a son, converted to Protestantism, and divorced her husband on grounds of adultery. As a single parent, she embarked on a ten-year struggle to become an ordained Methodist minister. Five years and several small New England pastorates later, Denman decided ""to explore [her] sexual identity"" with a lesbian friend -- entering into a relationship that deepened her ""experience of God's love."" She ""sensed God smiling. 'Ah, you've finally figured out who I wanted you to be.' "" Denman's prose at last catches fire when she describes her challenge of the Methodist ban on practicing homosexuals in the pulpit. Denied an extension of the leave of absence she had taken to transfer her ministry to the more tolerant Universalist Unitarian Association, and told she must end her lesbian relationship or resign, Denman went public. In a blare of publicity, she defended herself on the grounds that it was God's will that she be a lesbian, hence the church rule against homosexuality was invalid. The jury at her ecclesiastical trial more or less absolved her. Eschewing the word ""guilty,"" it ""sentenced"" her to a year's suspension from pastoral duties: in effect, the leave she had requested in order to transfer her ministry in good standing. Thick with biographical minutia of consequence primarily to Denman, but wondrously eloquent when challenging church doctrine. A noteworthy sociospiritual statement.

Pub Date: Jan. 18th, 1989
Publisher: Morrow