A married lesbian couple in Delaware will be ordained jointly as ministers this weekend, a historic first for a downtown Wilmington church.
Kaci Clark-Porter and her wife, Holly, will be ordained Sunday afternoon at First and Central Presbyterian Church located off Rodney Square. Church leaders believe the joint ordination will be the first of its kind in any denomination in the United States.
“We are so excited,” said Holly Clark-Porter, describing the milestone as a dream come true. “I keep feeling like what’s going to happen that’ll make this not happen.”
Married for three years, the couple lived in Texas after meeting at Austin Presbyterian Theological Seminary. Both found work at First and Central, bringing the couple to the First State.
Once ordained, Kaci will stay at First and Central and serve as associate pastor. Holly will lead as pastor of the “Big Gay Church,” a new, more contemporary congregation also located in Wilmington and formed by way of a new initiative in the New Castle presbytery called Freeing the Imagination of the Recently Seminary Trained (FIRST).
On the church’s website, underneath the name, a tagline reads, “A church without walls that welcomes without limits.”
“It’s one thing to say that you’re a welcoming congregation, but it’s another thing to have a young, lesbian woman in the pulpit. It makes a visible statement that a tagline can’t do,” Kaci said. “They celebrated me, my relationship and marriage to Holly, both of our ministries, they’ve just been incredible.”
“I keep telling people I feel like this is a celebration of everyone who has not been able to be at this moment — all the people who were rejected. And so I do feel this sense of duty and pride to be the best representation of a queer couple that we can,” wife Holly said.
Faith and sexuality
Holly grew up in Winnsboro, a small, conservative town in Texas.
“Even though my family was a little more progressive, they still didn’t know what to do with me when I came out and now they’re my best friends and champions,” Holly said.
She came out when she was attending seminary. Holly said up until that time, she struggled to reconcile her sexuality with her faith because she didn’t understand who she was.
“For me, I found that the more I learned about scripture … I was able to become more spiritual and that was when I was able to come out,” she said. “I knew that 100 percent, without a doubt, that God called me to be this person and God called me to fall in love with Kaci.”
“Unfortunately, when we talk about the church, or faith and sexuality, it’s often two things that are at odds with each other. But when I came out, I felt like I was living more fully into who God made me and my relationship with God deepened,” Kaci said.
In 2011, the Presbyterian Church USA allowed the ordination of people in same sex relationships as deacons, elders and ministers. Last year, the church voted to allow pastors to marry gay couples.
Delaware became the eleventh state to permit gay marriage in May 2013.