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Rev. Dr. Jerry Maynard: The People’s Priest and Advocate for Equality

Queer priest champions spirituality and pastoral care for everyone.

Rev. Dr. Jerry Maynard (Courtesy)

If you listen to Rev. Dr. Jerry Maynard preaching, it quickly becomes apparent why he is referred to as “The People’s Priest.” With a passion for pastoral care and spirituality, the openly queer priest has dedicated himself to people from all walks of life because, as he says, we are all God’s children.

“The gift of radical self-love, dynamic courage, and audacious defiance are what our churches need and what society needs,” he says. “I am here to make sure we do not forget our prophetic rage and that we are sacred beings who deserve a special seat at the table—or the table is going to be flipped!”

According to Maynard’s website, he “strives to offer healing medicine at the intersections of church and society through pastoral care and public witness.” With a doctorate in new theology from the New Theology School and a master’s degree in contextual ministry from Northwind Theological Seminary, Maynard uses his background to facilitate both online and in-person training in faith-based social action for different organizations.

The Houston-based priest, who identifies as a two-spirit person—someone who has both a masculine and a feminine spirit—has felt a calling to God since his early days in elementary school.

“I was raised in a fairly devout Mexican-American Roman Catholic household with a single mother who took us to church very faithfully,” he says. “I would describe our faith life as very pious with a strong devotion to the sacraments and a dedicated sense of community, which we had in both the church and our family as a whole. I first felt a call to be a priest when I was in second grade. At the time, I was learning about the eucharist (or holy communion) and just thought it was a beautiful idea. There was a moment in class where I distinctly remember saying to myself, ‘I could do that!’ So my call to ordained ministry really began with a love for the sacraments, with particular love for the eucharist.”

Rev. Dr. Jerry Maynard (Image courtesy)

It was not until he was older that Maynard, whose pronouns are he/they, realized this call to spiritual action could help marginalized communities who were negatively impacted by church and society.

“I now strive to show up in such a way that suddenly the lines between sanctuary, streets, and screens begin to be erased, thus democratizing the sacred,” he explains. “I love how Black queer author James Baldwin put it when he said, ‘I conceive of God as a means of liberation and not a means to control others.’ This is the ethos of my ministry, and I do this through counseling folks who are deconstructing and reconstructing their faith or offering a safe and encouraging space for folks who are struggling with gender or sexual identity. I visit people in their homes to celebrate mass or other sacraments with families, very much in the fashion of the early church. A significant portion of my ministry is that of being very publicly honest about my own journey of faith, particularly as an openly queer faith leader, with a strong emphasis that you can blend faith and doubt, sex and spirit, rage and hope.”

Maynard believes it is imperative that we open up God’s love to all types of people because everyone is worthy. He also posts his teachings online and offers virtual training sessions so that more people can become empowered.

“I choose to refer to my ministry as ‘The People’s Priest’ because it makes it clear to myself and others that this ministry is for, with, and by the people. This ministry is not for the rich and powerful. This ministry is meant to be horizontal and align with those on the underside of life. This is why I often do not serve as a priest in a congregational setting. My work usually takes me to homes, gay bars, coffee shops, Bunnies on the Bayou, encampments of unhoused folk—and let us not forget the screens, via YouTube and other digital platforms. Accessibility is the name of the game. At some point, digital tech and other forms of media will become the standard.”

Maynard hopes that anyone who hears his sermons and teachings will realize they deserve a life full of light, love, and God.

“God delights in them, and so do I,” he says. “Be not afraid! Show up to life, and life will show up for you. In these social systems we live in, it can be challenging to find a reason to get out of bed, especially when houses of worship are actively condemning you even before you have opened your eyes. With all my heart, I want you to know that you are enough of a reason to get out of bed. The church has lied to you and has manipulated you into thinking you are worthless, but the truth is that God says otherwise! God says you are very good. So rise up and demand the love you deserve from church and society. You are sacred!”

For more information on Rev. Maynard, visit thepeoplespriest.org.

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Connor Behrens

Connor Behrens is a communications graduate from the University of Houston. He has written for the Washington Post, Community Impact Newspaper and the Galveston County Daily News (the oldest newspaper in Texas). When he's not writing stories, he is likely watching the latest new release at the movie theater.
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