jQuery Slider

You are here

QUEERY: Rev. Michele H. Morgan

QUEERY: Rev. Michele H. Morgan

By Joey DiGuglielmo
December 23, 2018

The Christmas pageant at 4 p.m. on Christmas Eve at St. Mark's Episcopal Church Capitol Hill features a loose policy on who may appear at the manger.

As teens read the biblical nativity passage, children of the parish act out the story.

"We have a very open policy on who was there," Rev. Michele H. Morgan, St. Mark's rector, says. "If your child loves their honeybee costume from Halloween, we want them in the pageant. Most years we have dinosaurs, super heroes, bees and some Disney princesses. ... We are not strict interpreters of scripture and everyone is welcome extends to the play."

Morgan came to St. Mark's in 2015 from Minneapolis for the post. The church also has a 9:30 p.m. carol sing, 10 p.m. Mass in the round and a 10 a.m. "simple" service on Christmas with reception following that Morgan says is a "very quiet, laid-back service." Advent IV services (Dec. 23) are at 9, 11:15 a.m. and 5 p.m. Details at stmarks.net.

Morgan was ordained in 2004 and was the first "out, big, ole' homo" (as she puts it) where she was serving in Minnesota. The 55-year-old Calgary, Alberta native says "God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen" is her favorite carol and Luke 7:18-23 is a favorite scripture passage.

She and wife Michelle Dibblee live with their dog Rosie in Fort Totten. Morgan enjoys biking, dog walking, baseball and hockey and cross stitching in her free time.

How long have you been out and who was the hardest person to tell?
I came out in 1986 and my mother.

Who's your LGBT hero?
The Rev. Pauli Murray

What's Washington's best nightspot, past or present?
I have been sober for 32 years, so I am at a loss to answer that. I never go to nightspots, but I do love wandering around union market with my beloved.

Describe your dream wedding
I had it twice: once in an Episcopal Church presided by the now Bishop of Washington with 200 of our friends, both sets of parents and a potluck afterward by all the little old ladies of the church. The second, once we won marriage in Minnesota, on a hillside on a farm in Scandia Minn., with friends, family and a dinner provided by a young transman who was in my first confirmation class.

What non-LGBT issue are you most passionate about?
Gun violence prevention.

What historical outcome would you change?
The Battle of the Milivian Bridge. Constantine's victory gave him total control of the Western Roman Empire paving the way for Christianity to become the dominant religion for the Roman Empire and ultimately for Europe.

What's been the most memorable pop culture moment of your lifetime?
Being thanked last week by Speaker Nancy Pelosi for hosting the National Vigil to end gun violence. She shook my hand and I said, "Thanks for being Nancy Pelosi."

On what do you insist?
That all means all and that as writer and teacher Clay Shirky said: "When you're accustomed to privilege, equality feels like oppression."

What was your last Facebook post or Tweet?
A picture of Mary who is in her 80s and Brandon who is in his 40s and me.

If your life were a book, what would the title be?
"Always Learning"

If science discovered a way to change sexual orientation, what would you do?
Say I hope that people use it for good, and I would take a pass. I love who I am and who I was created to be and what if I was changed would it do to my beloved?

What do you believe in beyond the physical world?
On some days I believe that I will see those I love and can no longer see again. On other days I believe that done is good. I am OK with both of those options.

What's your advice for LGBT movement leaders?
Work together and embrace intersectionality.

What would you walk across hot coals for?
My wife, my dog Rosie the Thug Princess and the right to go out in the world and not get shot.

What LGBT stereotype annoys you most?
That the LGBTQ community cannot be people of faith and love a power greater then themselves.

What's your favorite LGBT movie?
I know it's cheesy but, I loved "Longtime Companion." I also believe at the end of "Copycat," once the serial killer has been dispatched, the Sigourney Weaver and Holly Hunter characters fall madly in love and run off together.

What's the most overrated social custom?
Something to do with silverware. I mean how many forks do you need at a place setting?

What trophy or prize do you most covet?
The Stanley Cup, mainly because there is only one Stanley Cup. I could never manage to crash the net.

What do you wish you'd known at 18?
That I would have a life that I loved and be authentic to who I was made to be.

Why Washington?
I was offered to do meaningful work here.

Joey DiGuglielmo is the Features Editor for the Washington Blade


Against Christmas & Christendom

By Mark Tooley
December 25, 2018

In a recent interview a Capitol Hill LGBTQ Episcopal Church priest, when asked what historical event she would change, responded:

The Battle of the Milivian Bridge. Constantine's victory gave him total control of the Western Roman Empire paving the way for Christianity to become the dominant religion for the Roman Empire and ultimately for Europe.

Emperor Constantine's victory, which led to his conversion to and legalization of Christianity in the pagan Roman Empire, is sometimes condemned as the launch of Christendom. Some Protestant narratives have faulted Constantinian Christianity for the church's corruption for which the Reformation was antidote.

Contemporary liberal Christians demonize Christendom as the herald of all they despise: patriarchy, capitalism, imperialism, and racism, along with virtually all other social injustices, real or imagined. A Sojourners columnist recently elaborated on Christendom's purported sins like "endless militarization:"

Things like the death penalty, gun violence, and torture also became sanctioned under Christendom, so much so that supporting capital punishment, gun rights, and state-sponsored torture are a pseudo declaration of conservative "Christianity."

This liberal Christian writer further detailed Christendom's crimes:

Immigrants and refugees are rejected, individuals are deported, families are ripped apart, Muslims vilified -- and their countries bombed, women assaulted, people of color attacked, and society filled with systemic oppression, all while Christendom works to hoard wealth, political influence, and power. It disguises such evil as being "spirituality" and covers its tracks by misusing scripture and selectively adapting doctrines to accommodate selfish desires. While the love of Christ benefits others, the machinations of Christendom benefits only itself.

It's a harsh critique of Christendom, based on some truth, but leaving out a lot as well, chiefly that the writer is judging Christendom by moral standards developed by Christendom. That persons all have an intrinsic dignity as image bearers of God is the founding premise of Christendom, starting with the earliest reforms launched by Constantine against the old pagan order in which the value and merit of human life was at best capricious.

That each person should be protected in law as an equal is a social concept fairly unique to Christendom and alien to almost all societies not influenced by it.

Here's a strength and weakness of Christendom: it's endlessly self-critical. Christendom, when it functions well, is endlessly aware that each person bears God's image but also is fallen. All persons and human systems are intrinsically flawed. And no person or institution can be completely trusted. So there is perpetual personal and social self-reflection, self-criticism, self-abnegation and self-correction, with hope for renewal, forgiveness and atonement.

But shorn from its spiritual roots, Christendom, especially when secularized, can become self-obsessively masochistic and self-hating, forgetting its strengths, denying atonement, and narcissistically imagining it is worse than all other cultures, indeed uniquely responsible for unspeakable misdeeds against all others. The Religious Left, although of course itself a child of Christendom, despises its parent, sometimes even denying the parentage.

One of Christendom's most glorious gifts to humanity is Christmas, the celebration of Jesus' birth. The holiday has been universalized as a cultural festival of gift giving, decoration, feasting and good will. Many or perhaps most celebrants of Christmas are not Christian, yet by their participation they enjoy and contribute towards the themes of generosity and hope originating with the Nativity.

Minimizing this holiday's inclusive appeal, a recent Washington Post column bewailed the supposed imposition of Christmas on society:

I like good cheer. But please do not wish me "Merry Christmas." It's wonderful if you celebrate it, but I don't -- and I don't feel like explaining that to you. It's lonely to be reminded a thousand times every winter that the dominant American cultural event occurs without me.

This writer finds the widespread celebration of Christmas to be oppressive and disrespecting of her non-Christian beliefs. She does not cite Christendom but likely would agree with the critique. One problem with her complaint is that every society has its festivals, rites and rituals based on beliefs from which there are always some dissenters. How can any commonalities cohere society if any dissenters have veto power?

Christendom at its best offers a unifying moral and spiritual framework based on God-given human dignity, while based on this premise, respects and protects dissenters from coercion. Most societies outside Christendom are far worse failures at safeguarding dissenters and minorities.

Constantine's victory at Milivian Bridge leading to Christendom, with its complex legacy, lamented by the Capitol Hill Episcopal priest, has across centuries been afflicted with every variant of human depravity. In this regard it resembles every other civilization. But Christendom has offered what most other societies typically have not to the same extent: a drive for human improvement and ability for self-criticism based on God-ordained human dignity.

Christmas, no longer confined to Christendom, is one of its most joyful legacies, based on the story of a God who loved humanity so much that He came to be among us. Its appeal to humanity's nobler aspirations elevates all persons and societies touched by it, whether they specifically believe in that God or not.


Get a bi-weekly summary of Anglican news from around the world.
comments powered by Disqus
Prayer Book Alliance
Trinity School for Ministry

Land of a Thousand Hills Coffee

Drink Coffee

Do Good

Sustainable Ministry

Coffee, Community, Social Justice


Go To Top