Keith McQueen Opens The First Black Gay Pentacostal Church In Indianapolis 

Posted on May 15, 2015

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 Everything Is Going Down, But The Word Of God……Well here we go again with discussion about sex and sexuality and the Black Church.  It seems the Black Church or especially the Pentecostal Church has a serious issue about same gender loving people.  Ironically the guys who fight the movement of affirming churches and their leaders are secretly Pineapple Juice Drinkers (Obnoxious word for on the down low) themselves and the gay boys that have found a place to function in the traditional environment.  This subject is such a big deal and seems to get people constantly up in arms when it should be viewed as any other sin.  If you like it partake and if you do not don’t.  Live and let other live without imposing your view on others.  At least these guys are honest about who they are and their relationship with Christ.


This is certainly not the view of a member of my Obnoxious Street Committee that has submitted the following letter and article for you to read below.  In their letter they raise some very good questions about the Five Fold Ministry and Homosexuality that we had not really heard articulated in this fashion.  It is Obnoxious Media desire to interview Pastor Keith McQueen to discuss his sexuality and faith.  In the meantime we are going to get the discussion started.  Men and women have bastard babies and nothing is said, people shack, do drugs, and so many other proclivities, but when it comes to two men getting busy and even more so two black men it is a huge issue.  What are your thoughts and why?  We want to hear from you.    


Dear Mr. Obnoxious,


When the Gay Church Meets the Five-Fold

 

Pastor Keith McQueen is on the move in Indiana. According to his web site, he was able to bring the largest African American LGBT presence in the history of Indiana.” The Indianapolis-based preacher, along with his first gentleman, was recently featured in Nuvo Magazine.

 

While McQueen’s accomplishments are noteworthy, it’s barely newsworthy. Gay-affirming churches are springing up nationwide. However, it was ironic that, even to the staff of Nuvo, an Indianapolis-based alternative press, that such a church has arisen in conservative Indiana. Remember how Indiana recently passed a Religious Freedom Bill that made the State the arm-pit of American. Many saw this bill as a legal right to discriminate against gays. Others, like lawmakers, claimed that it wasn’t all about that. The Bill was revamped to be less controversial nevertheless.  

 

The real news about these developments is “How will the landscape of Christendom change as gay churches spring up in a city near you? For instance, McQueen calls himself an anointed Prophet, Psalmist, Teacher, Philanthropist, Community Activist and Pastor.” What happens with the five-fold meets the gay church? What if your favorite pastor, evangelist, prophet or apostle is known to frequent and minister in a gay church? 

 

After all, Pastor McQueen is well connected. According to his web site, he has worked with many influential ministries such as Without Walls International Church in Tampa, FL and with Pastors Deitrick and Damita Haddon. In 2004 Pastor McQueen was licensed and Ordained at Harvesttime Apostolic Ministries under the leadership of Bishop Raymond Monroe Trout in Riverdale, GA.” And “God has blessed Pastor McQueen to preach across denominational lines throughout the United States.” In 2013 Pastor McQueen launched a community based organization in Indianapolis known as ELITE INDY. ELITE INDY is an organization designed to motivate and inspire young African American Gay males in the Greater Indianapolis area to set and achieve practical and realistic goals through education, inspiration and economic resources. 

 

So the questions for Theological Schools in light of recent development are manyIf a supposedly straight evangelist preaches for a gay church, he is or she:

• Accepting of that lifestyle
• An opportunist
• Oreally on the down-low?

 

Can straight people attend gay churches unless they are accepting of that lifestyle?

 

And most importantly, does God save people in Pentecostal gay churches like Powerhouse with evidence of the in-filling of the Holy Spirit, speaking in tongues? 

 

If God does save people in the midst of what some would call blatant sin, it would seem that gay churches do experience a degree of prosperity. The question asked in Jeremiah 12:1 was, “Why does the way of the wicked prosper? This question can be applied to church folks, whether gay or straight, and the unchurched alike. 

 

And how do churches prosper in the midst of systems that are ungodly?

 

Honestly, there’s an abundance of churches that operate and succeed under systems and spirits that are ungodly. These churches operate with cliques and often reward others with promotions for participating and indulging in ungodly behaviorsYet these churches enjoy a degree of prosperity. Member become confused, thinking that there must not be anything wrong with wicked ways if the pastor is wicked, the deacons are wicked and the whole dang crew.

 

So the final question is why does God allow ungodly people, preachers and church-systems to thrive, survive and prosper without punishment? The answer might be found in Luke 11:23 “Whoever is not with me (Jesus) is against me. Or maybe it’s Matthew !2:30, He who is not with me is against meCritics often cite these two statements as a contradiction. You decide.


 

 It’s not easy being a young African-American male in Indiana — where prejudices and stereotypes still maintain a stronghold in business, religious and government institutions. It’s also no walk in the park preaching the word of God in modern times to a multicultural, radically inclusive Christian congregation. Add to these attributes a person who is same-gender loving — and you’ve got a man on a mission. It’s a calling Pastor Keith McQueen courageously accepts in his ministry at Powerhouse Church of Indianapolis. 

Like a lot of people in their mid-twenties — filled with exuberance over their pending nuptials — Pastor McQueen recently posted a picture on Facebook of him and his partner, Derrick Howell, with the following brief message: 

I have been blessed beyond measure to be united with someone that I KNOW is equipped to minister to my Whole being. God saw fit to connect me to an amazing man! MY Best-friend/prayer-partner/confidant/counselor/business-advisor and now fiancé!!! September 12th can’t come quick enough!!! 

 

 That simple post — containing less than 45 words — created an online firestorm, generating more than 41 shares and close to 300 comments. Many comments included hateful and derogatory language, calling Pastor McQueen and Derrick “pigs,” “evil,” “wicked” and “Satan.”

“It’s double oppression,” explains Pastor McQueen. “You’ve been oppressed as a Black person, and you’re being oppressed as a LGBT person.” With complete candor, he says, “If you don’t deal with someone’s spiritual mindset around their human sexuality, or any aspect of themselves where there’s self-hate, you can’t help them.” 

He and Derrick didn’t take the negative remarks personally. “Neither one of us responded on Facebook, and the reason why is because, ‘an offended man is harder to win than a strong city.’ [Proverbs 18:19] If a person is in a spirit of anger, you’re not really open to allowing yourself to be educated or to be illuminated.” Pastor McQueen acknowledges that most of the people who made negative comments grew up similarly to the way he grew up. They were taught about a God that hates. “It’s religious indoctrination,” he says. “Every slur and every angry message are things that have been poured into them. They’re only giving back what they have been given.” 

 

 He emphasizes that same gender loving individuals are often given two options in Christian churches. Option A: You choose God. You choose to live for Christ. Option B: You “choose” to be same gender loving. He notes, “You aren’t presented with Option C: You can love yourself and love God.” Pausing momentarily, he says, “I think we presented some people with Option C who had not entertained the idea.”

  • Powerhouse Church of Indianapolis is located at 4110 E. New York St.
  • Photo by Michelle Craig

The African-American Christian Paradox

With a strong tradition of fighting for civil rights, the African American church presents an interesting paradox on marriage equality. “I do believe that the African American church has dropped the ball when it comes to defending LGBT people,” says Pastor McQueen. “You would think that African Americans who have been greatly mistreated and denigrated—still to this day—would be more welcoming and accepting. But unfortunately, there is so much prejudice.” The reasons may date back to slavery. “You dealt with a lot of stuff, but you couldn’t talk about it,” he says. “So people developed this mentality, ‘what happens in this house stays in this house.'” Today, that includes a reluctance to openly discuss human sexuality, especially in the African-American Christian church. 

“I’ll be frank, African Americans in the state of Indiana and in Indianapolis have not been equivocally empowered,” he says, “It’s a struggle of ours to get people on board to love themselves, particularly if they grew up in an environment where they were taught to hate themselves. You have to undo what has been done in order to walk them along the journey of self-acceptance.” 

 

 Pastor McQueen also recognizes where marriage equality stands in history. “We know that we’re in the midst of a transition, not just in this city but in the world, and we respect that.” Ongoing dialogue, he believes, is critical. “One of the more unhealthy routes people have taken in the Christian church is—outside of clichés and derogatory language — no one has honest dialogue around sexuality. If you provoke conversation, then you’ve done something. You’ve planted a seed.” 

“People have been blessed by the preaching,” he continues. “And they have followed the ministry. At the end of the day, the biggest outrage is: ‘I heard a message through this vessel that impacted me spiritually. How can this person, as they would say, have this lifestyle choice and be used by God?'” In his words, that forces people to deal with some of their own issues.

Pastor Keith McQueen Preaching

God’s Early Calling

Growing up third-generation Pentecostal, Pastor McQueen worked through those same issues himself. He readily concedes that loving the whole person and coming to terms with same-gender love within a Christian context can take years, even more so when one has a southern Pentecostal background.

Originally from South Carolina, his ministry began young. “I felt called to the ministry when I was nine,” he says. “And I preached my first sermon when I was ten years old.” One of his great aunts and her husband recognized the call of God in his life. While visiting them in Jacksonville, Florida, they asked if he wanted to preach one night. He answered “yes” and gave his first sermon, entitled, “The Things that Hinder Your Blessings.” That experience proved powerful. “I didn’t even know how to put together a sermon,” he reveals. “But the church was packed. People came out and were supportive.” At one point the power went out because of a hurricane. “It’s Jacksonville, Florida,” he laughs. They lit candles throughout the room and continued to worship. “It was an emotional night,” he says. “And I believe a lot of people were touched.” 

 

 Throughout school, he remained active in the ministry. He continued to do so while attending college at Clark Atlanta University in Georgia, where he studied psychology. He held after school prayer services, took kids to get baptized at the church, and prayed for people on campus. Hundreds of college youth came out for the prayer services. 

Ordained at age 17, Pastor McQueen says, “That’s what I’ve been doing ever since, and I wouldn’t trade it for the world.”

But his path as a same-gender loving Christian has not been without personal hardships. “I went through the Pray the Gay away, Conversion Therapy (sexual-orientation therapy), and all that,” he says. None of it worked. “I did believe at one point that one magical day I would wake up and have sexual desires for women, and I would not be same-gender loving. I prayed I would get delivered.” He takes a breath and then, with conviction, proclaims, “The truth is I did get delivered. I got delivered from self-hatred. I got delivered from abusive theology. To me that’s deliverance. Learning to love yourself is deliverance.” 

Powerhouse Church Arrives in Indianapolis

Pastor McQueen moved from Atlanta to Indianapolis in 2012 and quickly began Powerhouse Church, with only six people. It’s a culturally diverse ministry that offers restoration to the whole person, including health and wellness services, GED training and preparation, and advocacy for the rights of individuals in the African-American LGBT community. “It can be tough,” he says. “Particularly when you pastor in an authentic space. When you pastor a church like Powerhouse, where people have attended church all their lives but maybe weren’t honest or upfront about certain aspects of who they are, and then you create a space for all people, that means all of their baggage and all of their hurts, the things other ministries weren’t able to deal with, it comes into one room.” But the message he imparts is clear, “Faith, Healing, and Equality as a right to every willing vessel.” At Powerhouse Church, he declares, “Everyone can know the love of Christ.”

  • Pastor Keith McQueen founded Powerhouse Church of Indianapolis as a culturally diverse ministry, committed to offering restoration to the whole person.
  • Photo by Michelle Craig

Meeting His Life Partner

Derrick Howell came to Powerhouse Church two years ago. Gifted with a joyful singing voice, Derrick is active in the choir — a rousing Spirit filled offering each Sunday that brings the church to its feet, clapping and dancing. He also devotes management talents to the finance department. 

Pastor McQueen explains that a little over a year ago, the two became friends beyond the pastor role. “What I liked about the friendship,” Pastor McQueen says, “is that I could be my whole self around Derrick. I could be Pastor McQueen, and I could just be Keith. And for some strange reason, Derrick seemed to have an ability to deal with that.” He laughs. “After I’m done pastoring people, he has the grace to pastor me. That’s a whole ministry within itself.” Derrick smiles good-naturedly, nodding his agreement.

 

Gradually, their relationship evolved from platonic friendship to romantic. “I wanted to be very careful going into it,” Pastor McQueen explains. “We sought counseling, both spiritual and secular, to make sure that we were going down this path in a very healthy way.” 

On Valentine’s Day, Derrick Proposes 

A humble and highly respected person in the church, Derrick quietly relays their engagement story. “We took a trip to Atlanta, and I met his parents and grandparents. We met the bishop of our organization and attended a church service there. Mostly, we just wanted some time to relax. He’s always busy and I’m always busy; so the weekend was a great opportunity to relax and enjoy each other’s company without all the different pools we get into.” Derrick had planned to propose and present a ring, but when he got to Atlanta, he realized the box containing the ring had been misplaced. Derrick says, “Saturday night, I decided, well, I had my ring. I’m just going to go ahead and propose and give him my ring and then work out the rest of the details later on.”

“Thankfully,” Derrick continues, “he said yes!” 

Pastor McQueen picks up the thread of their story. “To me, our love is greater than something tangible. Whether he had a ring or not, I was going to say yes. He could have handed me a piece of paper with two boxes. ‘Will you marry me: Yes or No,’ and I would have said yes.” He glances at Derrick. “Our relationship is deeper than that. It’s one of the things I love about Derrick. The relationship goes beyond stuff and other entities. God has given us a certain magic. Our energy feeds off of each other. It’s so easy to converse with him.” 

Like all couples, they have occasional disagreements. Yet, Pastor McQueen finds that they don’t really argue. “Arguing is trying to defend something. I believe we don’t argue because there’s nothing to defend. When we come to a dispute where we share differing viewpoints, we are genuinely trying to reach a conclusion. It’s not about who is right. It’s about what is right.” 

 

Derrick and Pastor McQueen both agree on the importance of intimacy in their relationship. “We have this dynamic of intimacy that we believe in,” says Pastor McQueen. “Intimacy is, we say, into me see, allowing someone to see you authentically and telling each other how we feel. That’s one of the things I appreciate most about my relationship with Derrick.”

Derrick agrees and adds, “One thing we push each other to do is to be completely vulnerable. It’s difficult. Both of us have been in different places where it wasn’t always encouraged. So to come into a relationship and safe space where you can say whatever has to be said and come to a conclusion about it, is one of the biggest pieces.” At Powerhouse Church, Derrick stresses, the ministry is also one of healing. “We use the phrase: ‘All the time, heal each other.'”

Telling The Family 

Pastor McQueen’s family dealt with news of the couple’s engagement a little bit better. He says, “I have taken the time to create an open and honest dialogue with my family, which isn’t easy when you grow up with a southern Pentecostal family. People don’t want to talk about it. They just want to pray about it.” He notes that he didn’t have unrealistic expectations and didn’t pressure them to accept certain ideas overnight that took him years to embrace. His grandmother also helped the process. “My grandmother is just a very loving person,” he says. “Her emphasis was on the love of God and the love of Christ. She has a mentality of, ‘It’s not my place to judge people. My assignment is to love people.'” 

Derrick’s family is still grappling with the engagement. “They haven’t met him yet,” says Derrick. “That’s a bit of a sore spot, but we’re working on that piece of it.” He trusts that his family will come around eventually. “They have known about my sexuality since I was 18,” he says. “But marriage is a new level that they just weren’t ready for.” He recognizes that many people have the idea that same gender love will go away or the individual will be delivered from it. “They don’t see the natural matriculation of living life where there comes a day when you’re actually getting married.” He sees signs of hope though. “Before it would be, ‘I don’t want to talk about it’ and now it’s ‘Well, tell me what he does. Are you ready to be the spouse of a pastor?'” He says, “I can see where God is working that out.”

Same-Gender Love is Not a Sin

Reverend Jeff Miner, senior pastor at LifeJourney Church, leads a local Christian denomination of approximately 400. Married to his same gender spouse for 24 years, Reverend Miner studies and speaks on Biblical scripture as it relates to LGBT individuals who are followers of Jesus. 

He says, “It’s common when people are troubled about gay marriage that their concern begins with, ‘What does the Bible say?’ I understand and respect that. I take the Scriptures very seriously. My attitude is not that the Bible doesn’t matter. It matters very much.” 

In examining the body of scholarly research over the past 30 years, Rev. Miner does not find support for the idea that same gender loving relationships are a sin. “We as Christians have historically misinterpreted the Bible on other important subjects, such as slavery and the role of women in society,” he notes. “And we have held those misinterpretations for centuries.” According to Rev. Miner, the subject of LGBT relationships is another area where thoughtful Christians are coming back to the Scriptures and asking: “Did we get this right or has our interpretation been framed through the lens of prejudice?”

Scholars of Bible scripture are finding that the Bible draws the same lines for same-gender loving people as for straight people. “Abusive, violent, promiscuous sexuality is condemned,” proclaims Rev. Miner. “Loving, committed relationships are approved.” (See sidebar for scripture analysis).

Powerhouse Church: A Message of Love 

With beautiful stained glass windows, Powerhouse Church stands tall in the midst of a working class neighborhood on the East Side of Indianapolis. Its slogan is, “We’re transforming the world, one soul at a time” It is a safe space for all of God’s people, with a congregation now numbering over 200.

“We believe God is love,” says Pastor McQueen. He also believes that there is such a thing as sin. He says, “One of the greatest sins is not giving yourself the opportunity to become all you can be. Not walking in truth. To me, that’s a sin.” He also believes in the scripture John 3:16. “For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whosoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.” As he explains, “Nobody can determine who that whosoever is. I am whosoever. We all are whosoever.”

 

For Pastor McQueen, the greatest manifestation of the devil is “hatred. It’s bitterness. It’s unforgiveness. It’s ignorance.” In his view, ignorance doesn’t mean just not knowing. “The operative prefix in that word is ‘ignore.’ You don’t know and you don’t want to know.” He continues, “Some years ago, they didn’t believe in women preachers. A few years before that, they preached in the church that interracial couples were of the devil. A hundred years ago, they preached that slavery was the will of God. That it was the will of God to own another human being! It’s like a game of tag. Now same-gender loving and transgender people are it.”

He concludes, “We didn’t change the message. We just extended the invitation. People who were not invited now have an invitation. They now have a place where they can bring their whole selves into the room and worship God in authentic and real truth.”

“Actually, that’s what God commanded us to do,” Derrick points out. “Love God and walk in truth.” 

Steadfast in their faith in God and love for one another, Pastor McQueen and Derrick carry on God’s work, making Powerhouse Church “A Place for All People.”


But What About The Bible?

Although most people assume the Bible condemns same-sex relationships, many Christians are starting to challenge that view. In his book, The Children Are Free, Rev. Jeff Miner argues that the Bible affirms loving, committed gay relationships. 

According to Rev. Miner, the passages commonly used against LGBT people are focused on violent or promiscuous sexual acts: 

Genesis 19, where the men of Sodom tried to rape male angels.

Leviticus 18-20, where Moses prohibits homosexual practices common in Canaan and Egypt at the time, i.e., intercourse with male temple prostitutes.

•  Romans 1:18-32, where Paul denounces people who reject God, worship idols, and (in a hedonist quest) experiment with all kinds of sex.

By contrast, Rev. Miner argues that the Bible affirms committed same-sex relationships: 

•  Matthew 8:5-13, where a Roman centurion asks Jesus to heal his pais, a term used in ancient Greek to describe a beloved same-sex partner. Jesus performs the miracle and commends the centurion’s great faith.

•  Matthew 19:1-12, where Jesus affirms that God gifted some men to be “born eunuchs,” an ancient term that referred to men who were attracted to men and seemed born that way.

•  I Samuel 18-20 and II Samuel 1, which celebrate a relationship in which David loved Jonathan more than his wives (II Samuel 1:27).

These and other passages are addressed in Rev. Miner’s book. Rev. Jeff Miner, co-author, The Children Are Free: Reexamining the Biblical Evidence on Same-sex Relationships.