R. Adam DeBaugh, long-time, prominent lay leader in the Metropolitan Community Churches, was born on June 23, 1947. He graduated from Macalaster College in 1969, studying international affairs and English. In the early 1970s, Adam served as Director of the Center for the Study of Power and Peace, an inter-religiously funded international affairs research center in Washington, D.C. Then he worked as Administrative Assistant to Congressman Bob Edgar (Democrat from Pennsylvania) from January until June 1975. During this time, he also served on the board of directors of The Washington Blade.
In late 1972, Adam started attending the Metropolitan Community Church congregation in Washington, D.C. and quickly became involved in MCC locally, regionally and nationally. At the end of June 1975, Adam and the Rev. Roy Birchard started the UFMCC Washington Field Office on Capitol Hill, Adam becoming Director in 1976. As head of the Washington Field Office, he was the first person to lobby the U.S. Congress full-time for LGBTQ rights.
Remembering their time working together, Birchard said, “Adam was the catalytic person in the formation of the MCC Capitol Hill lobbying office and its successors. The 1976 MCC General Conference was crucial in advancing many agendas, but it affirmed MCC’s commitment to advancing our rights through the formation of GRNL (Gay Rights National Lobby), the grandparent of today’s Human Rights Campaign (HRC)…Like many MCC catalytic leaders starting with Troy Perry, his [Adam’s] wonderful sense of humor was a mark of sanity through the tumultuous waves of social revolution.”
In late 1975, Adam was named Director of the UFMCC Department of Christian Social Action, a position which he held until 1986. In this position he traveled extensively throughout the U.S., visiting, speaking, and preaching at over 100 MCC congregations and supervised the Christian Social Action programs of the denomination.
Adam served on the board of directors of the Gay Rights National Lobby when it was founded by Steve Endean in 1976 until it merged with Human Rights Campaign Fund in 1985 and hosted GRNL staff in the UFMCC’s Washington Office for the first few years.
In 1979, Adam and the Rev. Elder Nancy Wilson were named the first Co-Directors of the newly-created Department of Ecumenical Relations. In 1981, Adam wrote the MCC's original application for membership in the National Council of the Churches of Christ in the U.S. He and Wilson supervised the first triennium of dialogue with the NCCC through 1984, when he stepped down from the ecumenical work of the Fellowship.
In October 1983, Adam was elected District Coordinator of the Mid-Atlantic District, only the second lay person to hold the position of District Coordinator in the UFMCC. The Mid-Atlantic District covered six states and the District of Columbia. He served on the UFMCC General Council (the governing body of the denomination) from its inception in 1985 until 1992.
An accomplished writer, editor and communicator, Adam founded Chi Rho Press, Inc. in 1990 as “a publishing house serving the Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgendered community, providing books and other resources to nourish the spiritual and religious aspects of our lives.” He decided not to stand for re-election as District Coordinator when his term expired in June 1992, in order to follow God's clear call on his life to devote his energies to the ministry of Chi Rho Press. He authored of a number of booklets including “Writing to Congress” and “The Least of These: A Christian Social Action Bible Study on Matthew 25,” distributed by Chi Rho Press, and contributed to the books The Road to Emmaus: Daily Encounters with the Risen Christ and Positively Gay: New Approaches to Gay and Lesbian Life. He co-wrote a five-part booklet on the March 1989 Mission Statement of the UFMCC General Council: The UFMCC empowers people to bring Christian Salvation, Christian Community, and Christian Social Action to the world. The booklet included the inspiring story of the creation of the Mission Statement and four reflections on the elements of the statement itself. In his role with Chi Rho Press, Adam regularly provided resource displays at MCC General Conferences and other LGBTQ religious conferences.
Adam was employed as a Project Administrator with Westat beginning in 1998 and, for 25 years there, administered projects in health studies. He also served on the board of directors of Emmaus House of Prayer and Among Friends, Inc., an agency that provided transitional services to LGBTQ people in crisis. He served on the board of trustees of the Fund for Overcoming Racism, a scholarship fund for people of color who are studying for MCC clergy ministry.
Adam lived his later years around Gaithersburg, Maryland. He died on May 20, 2023, from cancer and multiple health issues.
(This biographical statement written by Mark Bowman from information provided in resources below.)
Biography Date: June 2023
Chi Rho Press website: https://www.chirhopress.com
MCC released this memorial statement about DeBaugh: https://myemail.constantcontact.com/In-Memoriam---MCC-Remembers-Adam-DeBaugh.html?soid=1101747410130&aid=6DJ6b-hFX0U
DeBaugh reflects on history with MCC at this PAD Conference in 2017: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=b0fsPK98KqA
MCC | Activist (religious institutions) | Author/editor | Birchard, Roy | Wilson, Nancy | Washington, D.C.
“Adam DeBaugh | Profile”, LGBTQ Religious Archives Network, accessed September 27, 2023, https://lgbtqreligiousarchives.org/profiles/adam-debaugh.
I guess it is OK to say that Adam and I dated for a while when I was in my first year of seminary in Washington, D.C. He "took me under his wing" and I went with him to MCC-DC for the early afternoon services (in a UCC church at 10th & G Streets) and then out to suburban Northern Virginia for an evening MCC service that was mostly all women. He wanted me to experience Gay and Lesbian people worshipping as out, joyous Christians. I accompanied Adam to New York City in the Spring of 1982 when he was part of the delegation from UFMCC who were petitioning the National Council of Churches for membership. He introduced me to Rev. Paul Abels, so I could meet an out United Methodist pastor, and we worshiped at Washington Square UMC. I appreciate the exuberant way Adam approached life and I am grateful for him being a "tour guide" during early coming out as a Gay United Methodist.
– as remembered by Chip Aldridge on June 28, 2023
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