by Megan Smith
After a year of searching, the Bay Area Unitarian Universalist Church (BAUUC) welcomes their new settled minister, Bruce Beisner, an openly gay man.
A rarity in some denominations, the Unitarian Universalist church has a long history of inclusion and acceptance of the queer community. In 1971, resolutions were passed within the denomination encouraging lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender members to join the church, promising a safe and welcoming environment for everyone.
Even Beisner’s predecessor, the church’s two-year interim minister, was an openly gay man. “One of the things that we embrace in our congregation is diversity,” BAUUC Congregation President Claire Zimmerman says. “Particularly, we have worked to be openly welcoming of the GLBT community. It’s just not an issue. If you’re gay, it’s fine by us.”
Moving to Texas from Ohio, Beisner is already feeling at home with his new church community. His partner, Jim, first discovered BAUUC during his time in Houston for contract work, finding that the church’s Wednesday night suppers provided him with a family away from home.
After graduating from seminary and hearing of his partner’s positive experience, Beisner took interest in BAAUC during his search for a church community. With the right size congregation for Beisner’s experience and a great mixture of younger and older members, the church and Beisner both agreed they were a perfect match for one another. “It just had a really good spirit to it,” Beisner says.
As minister, Beisner hopes to continue the church’s strong service and community engagement programs. The church takes pride in its commitment to the LGBT community, environmental sustainability issues, and neighborhood outreach. Current programs include providing clothing donations, teaching English as a second language within neighboring areas, and maintaining a community garden.
Beisner’s first sermon takes place this Sunday, August 5, at 9:30 a.m. and 11:30 a.m. He will be speaking about hopes and anticipation for the future, enjoying the process of working together, and accepting our imperfections. The church was very impressed with his powerful and personal sermons during the selection process and highly anticipates Beisner’s first service, Zimmerman says. “When you’re with him, you feel as if you are the most important person in the room,” she says. “He’s got a great presence where you just feel cared about and that he is trying to understand your point of view no matter what it is.”
For more information:
Bay Area Unitarian Universalist Church
17503 El Camino Real
Houston, TX 77058
Megan Smith is a news and features writer for OutSmart magazine.