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Rev. Bonnie Daniel

Biography

Rev. Bonnie Daniel, one of the first women clergy in the Metropolitan Community Churches, was born in New York City on September 29, 1942.  She was raised in a Jewish family and was a lifelong New York Yankees’ fan.

The Rev. Elder Nancy Wilson recalls hearing Bonnie talk about her early years, her conversion and connection to MCC.  In the late 1960s, Bonnie was living in Santa Monica, California, married to a man, and in denial about being lesbian. She also was a dealer of marijuana and supplied wealthy Hollywood types.  She had an appointment to make a drop at the home where the infamous Tate/LaBianca murders happened on that very day.  However, she was arrested the day before and went to jail. During the six months or so when she was in jail, she found out she was pregnant and figured out that she was lesbian.  Believing she had been spared from the Manson family murders and having found a new identity, she was driven to seek God and converted to a fundamentalist version of Christianity.

When she was released from prison in 1972, she birthed a son Micah and discovered MCC Los Angeles.  She was a gifted leader and soon started an MCC congregation in Santa Monica and did her seminary training with MCC.  She was licensed as clergy in 1973 and ordained in 1974.  She pastored New Spirit MCC in Cincinnati, Ohio in 1975-76.   She then pastored Pike’s Peak MCC in Colorado Springs and Topeka MCC.   During this time, Bonnie partnered with another clergy, Rev. Jane Carl.  Diane Lowe became her spouse for the last 24 years of her life.  

Bonnie served in top leadership positions in the MCC, including the Credentials Committee and as well as the national council overseeing the denomination.  From 1986 to 1992 she served as District Coordinator of the Mid-Central District which encompassed the western mountains and plains areas of the U.S.  During her tenure, the number of MCC congregations in the district increased from 9 to 24.

In 1993, the pastor position opened at New Spirit MCC in Cincinnati where Bonnie had served earlier.   Bonnie was encouraged to apply and was enthusiastically affirmed.   She became a founding member of The Center in Cincinnati; an active member of Stonewall, spiritual advisor to the Imperial Sovereign Queen City Court of the Ohio Buckeye Empire; and spoke on several talk shows on The WAVE radio station about homosexuality.  She pastored there until her retirement in 2007 (or 2012).

In her retirement Bonnie moved to Topeka, Kansas, to be near her son and two grandchildren.  She lived in a senior facility and became a leader at Topeka MCC.  However, her family did not support Bonnie’s involvement in MCC or identity as a lesbian. She was injured badly in a car accident and spent a long time in recovery and rehab.  Other physical maladies followed and she entered nursing home hospice until her death on January 14, 2023.  

Long-time friend and colleague Susan Deitrick recalls that: Rev. Bonnie Daniel was definitely a leader from day one. She had a charismatic way about her that just drew people in and made them want to stay for the next round.  She had a Light that came from that Divine-to-human encounter between Jesus and her that would never let darkness consume her. She was funny when it was appropriate; could joke with the simple folks entering MCC for the first time, or the drag queens in the bar or Royal Court who had no clue what they were getting into, but were too drawn to turn aside. Bonnie helped Honey Carolina (Michael Cole) find a loving God and a calling on his life that led to the founding of Christ Chapel in Long Beach, California.  

Bonnie rescued countless children of God who had been on collision courses of rejection, discrimination, distortions of truth as to their true identities in God’s plan. Bonnie had “Jars of Hope” for each one that would reveal their true identities in Christ along with hope they had never known before. Salvation came to the communities where she pastored or preached that would lead LGBTQ+ people from their spiritual ghettos of hopelessness to ones of acceptance and hope that no one could ever take away again. She could get people excited about the Kingdom of Heaven. She could also jangle those heart strings with stories that seemed to come from a bottomless collection that could address every dilemma and lead back to hope in God. Bonnie may not have always gotten it right, but she never stopped trying.  Even as dementia was insidiously slipping into her consciousness toward the end, it was still obvious that God never left her side.   

(This biographical statement written by Mark Bowman from information provided by Rev. Elder Nancy Wilson, Susan Deitrick and other MCC sources.)

Biography Date: December 2023

Additional Resources

Bonnie Daniel's obituary and tributes:
https://www.kevinbrennanfamily.com/obituaries/Bonnie-Daniel-2/#!/TributeWall 

Tags

MCC | Clergy Activist

Citation

“Rev. Bonnie Daniel | Profile”, LGBTQ Religious Archives Network, accessed May 30, 2024, https://lgbtqreligiousarchives.org/profiles/bonnie-daniel.

Remembrances

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