Rev. Paul Whiting | Profile
Paul was born into the Pentecostal Assemblies in Great Britain. As a child he remembers Donald Gee, a Pentecostal pioneer, as a visitor to the family home and as a student he became friends with Pentecostal founder John Carter. Paul's uncle, Keith Munday, became the General Secretary of the British Assemblies of God churches. Paul seemed destined to follow in their footsteps when in 1978 he was hired as pastor of one of Britain’s oldest Pentecostal churches, the church where his childhood hero, Donald Gee, had commenced ministry.
A year earlier, following his graduation from Mattersey Hall College, Paul served an internship in Hitchin (Hertfordshire), where he became acquainted with Richard Kirker, later to become General Secretary of the Gay Christian Movement. Richard’s friendship challenged Paul’s secret struggle with homosexuality and inspired a career turn around. Motivated by his personal experience, in 1979, Paul was one of the founders of the Evangelical Fellowship for Lesbian and Gay Christians, a group set up to support the many closeted gay Christians in Evangelical and Fundamentalist churches; but it was also an action that was to lead to his removal from his own ministry. In 1981, he was outed and ousted from the Assemblies of God but, undeterred, Paul channeled himself into Christian activism. He went on to serve the National Executive for the Lesbian and Christian Movement until he was elected to the first board of the European Forum for Lesbian and Gay Christians in 1985.
Since its inception in 1983, the European Forum has sought to bring together LGBT Christian organizations across Europe for conversation and action. Through multi-lingual conference, the Forum seeks to challenge church attitudes toward homosexuality. Its annual gathering has been a place where eminent theologians have presented papers on the theological and ethical issues of faith. In years before the fall of the Soviet Union, the European Forum was meeting with groups in East Germany, Czechoslovakia and Romania. At the 1988 meeting in London, the Forum welcomed, for the first time, a guest from the World Council of Churches, and Bishop John Yates, Chair of the Anglican Church’s Report on Homosexuality. Paul served the board for seven years, the last two as the Forum’s president, convening over conferences in Oslo, Frankfurt, London, Strasburg, Utrecht and Zurich.
In 1990, Paul changed his paternal family name Scroxton, to his maternal family name Whiting, as gesture to put aside the Pentecostal identity. He reconsidered a return to ministry and began a spirituality group at the Lesbian & Gay Center in Manchester. The group was soon to outgrow its space and move to Manchester’s City Hall. In 1992, Metropolitan Community Church (MCC) founder Rev. Troy Perry came to speak at the City Hall at Paul’s invitation, igniting a friendship between the two men and a commitment from Paul to pursue full-time ministry again.
In 1994, Paul became the first British clergy person to pastor an MCC congregation in the U.S., when he was elected to pastor Church of the Holy Spirit MCC in Des Moines, Iowa. This was followed by an invitation, in 1997, to pastor Trinity Metropolitan Community Church in Gainesville, Florida, where he also served as chaplain to lesbian and gay students at University of Florida.
In 2004, Paul’s first book Sacred Journeys was published, retelling the spiritual journey that brought him to America. In the same year he was invited to pastor Metropolitan Community Church of the Palm Beaches.
After fifteen years of working with MCC in the USA, Paul was invited to MCC London (Ontario, Canada) where he became the congregation’s first full-time pastor in its thirty year history. Alongside his work with MCC in Canada, Paul worked with the Homophobia, Biphobia and Transphobia Working Group.
Paul and his husband legally married in Montreal in 2007, but immigration restrictions prevented his husband from moving to Canada, so with the US Supreme Court decision recognizing same gender marriage Paul returned to the USA in 2015 to work in Topeka, Kansas where Westborough Baptist is in his parish neighborhood. He also serves on the Diversity Council of AARP Kansas as the LGBT advocate, and after an absence of 25 years has renewed his connection with the European Forum."
(This biographical statement provided by Paul Whiting & revised in May 2018.)
Biography Date: September, 2005
MCC | Kirker, Richard | Perry, Troy | European Forum of LGBT Christian Groups | Lesbian and Gay Christian Movement (London, United Kingdom) | Clergy Activist | Canada | United Kingdom
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