Barb Crabtree was born in 1960 in Cleveland, Ohio. Barb’s parents met while living in West Virginia and married there. Even though the U.S. was coming out of the Great Depression when Barb’s parents started the family, economic conditions in West Virginia were tough. So they moved to Cleveland in the 1950s in search of better jobs. Barb’s father was the son of a pastor, and her mother was what we now describe as spiritual but not religious. As Barb recalls her mom saying, “I talk to God and we’re just fine.”
Barb’s parents separated when she was three years old and were divorced five years later. Barb was raised by a single mom. During her childhood, Barb spent a lot of time reading. She also enjoyed playing football and baseball with other children in the neighborhood. They moved to Mansfield, Ohio to live with her mom’s new husband. Their home was outside of the city and Barb developed her love of dogs and horses there. When that marriage did not work out, Barb and her mom moved back to Cleveland.
Barb finished high school at Valley Forge High School in Parma, Ohio. She played volleyball and softball and also participated in the debate team. In her senior year she placed fifth in extemporaneous speaking in the Ohio State Forensics Tournament. Even though Barb did not have much consciousness of sexual identity through her childhood, she did spend one summer—at age 10—cross dressing, wearing boys’ work pants, shirts and ties.
Barb enrolled in college at Miami University in Ohio and graduated in 1982 with a Bachelor’s Degree in Systems Analysis. Barb entered college with much enthusiasm and energy, ready to be away from home and in a learning environment. She joined a sorority and soon found herself in an intimate relationship with a sorority sister. So she came out as a lesbian during her first year of college. She was an Eastman Kodak scholar at Miami and did internships with the corporation a couple summers in Rochester, NY. Following graduation she moved to Rochester to begin employment at Eastman Kodak. A couple years later she started an MBA program at the University of Rochester and went to night school while working full-time during the day for the next five years.
During Barb’s early adult years, her mother grew concerned that Barb had not been baptized as a child. So she regularly cajoled Barb to be looking for a church in which to be baptized. Barb was playing on the company’s softball team at the time and after a tournament game she went with her teammates to Rosie’s, a local gay bar. There she happened to pick up a copy of The Empty Closet, Rochester’s gay newspaper. The paper had ads for two local religious groups: a Dignity/Integrity chapter and a Metropolitan Community Church. Knowing nothing about either, she asked a teammate who told her Dignity was for Catholics and MCC for Protestants. A few weeks later, she went to Sunday worship at MCC. After the service she went up and asked the pastor if she did baptisms. When the pastor replied yes, Barb asked if she would do it on the spot. So Barb was baptized on her first Sunday visiting MCC.
Barb became an active member of MCC, finding both a strong spiritual connection and a commitment to social justice, the blending of which would become her calling throughout her life.
Over the next years, Barb served the church as a Board Member and expanded her ministry to serve as Assistant District Coordinator in the MCC’s Northeast District. During the next years, Barb’s management career progressed and she also progressed in service to MCC. In 2006, she was working as Vice President of Brand and Marketing at Harris Interactive, a premier market research firm and she was appointed to serve on MCC’s Board of Administration. Three years later, changes in MCC Staff resulted in an opening for the Director of Operations position. Barb began in this role in 2009, and has served MCC there since that time.
As Director of Operations, Barb oversees MCC’s financial and corporate functions and plans MCC’s General Conferences and other major meetings.
In January 2012, Barb met her future wife, Rev. Catherine Dearlove. The couple married in December 2015, and now live in Gainesville, Florida where Catherine is Senior Pastor at Trinity MCC Gainesville.
In their spare time, Barb and Catherine enjoy hiking for miles with Bobby, a Tibetan Spaniel, and Grace, a Yorkshire Terrier mix.
Biography Date: April 2017
“Barb Crabtree | Profile”, LGBTQ Religious Archives Network, accessed February 26, 2021, https://lgbtqreligiousarchives.org/profiles/barb-crabtree.