Rev. William H. Carey was born in New York City in May of 1958. His family was Catholic, and he was taught to attend Mass regularly. He remembers being aware of his orientation as early as 1962. Of course, he knew nothing of sex, and it would be another seven years before he would first hear the word homosexual. But if you had asked him at four years of age whether he wanted to marry a man or a woman when he grew up, he would not have hesitated to answer: "I want to marry a man."
He was sitting in church one day at about seven years of age, when God spoke to him. Although hearing the voice of God probably isn't a daily occurrence for most Catholic kids, William was not at all frightened. God said simply, "You are not your own; you are bought with a price." It would be years before WIlliam learned that those words were in the Bible. He had never seen a Bible, and his family didn't even own one. But he knew the voice was God, and he interpreted His words to mean ‘I have work for you to do, and you belong to Me.’ William accepted this as his call to the ministry.
Between the ages of seven and fourteen, many changes took place in his life. As a fourteen year old, he was a Pentecostal boy living in a very small town in upstate New York. The call he felt from God had been intensified. He couldn't wait till to finish high school so he could go to Bible School and train for the ministry. He was on fire for God, and excited about the things that lay ahead. Back in a corner of his mind, though, was one nagging thought: "I was a homosexual, and the Bible said that was sin."
One of the greatest differences between Pentecostals and more liberal Christians is in interpretation of Scripture. Whereas less fundamentalist churches could accept arguments about portions of scripture being inapplicable to today's society, such arguments were inherently invalid to Pentecostals. All the writings William had seen regarding homosexuality and scripture either condemned him outright, or used "invalid" arguments to justify him. He responded the same way so many others have: by condemning himself. He chose to hide his sexuality until the magic day when God would make it disappear.
In the late 1970s he confided in a close friend in the church. She was very sympathetic, but also untrustworthy. She told the pastor. Unknown to William at the time, this pastor had been going through a similar struggle for years, but hadn't even admitted it to himself. His reaction to finding out about William was one of fear. He somehow thought William was a threat to his ministry. Under the guise of helping, the pastor began weekly counseling sessions. Once a week for the next year, the pastor told William that he was worthless to God, the church and society. The pastor told him that he was dirty and sinful. Then this pastor told William that that someday he would take his own life. William was totally blind to what the pastor was trying to do. This man was his loved and trusted pastor, who would never do anything to hurt him.
It was in 1978 that Carey's world caved in. His pastor's words had accomplished what he wanted them to: William wanted to die. He remembers that he came very close to taking his own life. In fear, William called the pastor for help, still not realizing that this man was responsible.
I told him I was scared and needed help. He scheduled an appointment with me. He didn't show up. I made another appointment with him. He didn't show up. A few days later, after an evening Bible school class, he asked me to come to his office. There, with his assistant present, he started asking me for information about others in the church. I told him I couldn't tell him anything. He implied that if I didn't, he would tell the whole church about me. Although I was terrified beyond anything I'd ever felt before, I still refused to give him any information, and told him he could take whatever action he chose. That week William left the church.
Carey later realized that he had experienced a breakdown. He lost his job, and for the next year, couldn't hold a job for more than a week or two. He began to drink and stay out all night, frequently waking up with total strangers the next morning. Without a job, he couldn't keep an apartment, so friends let him stay with them until they could no longer tolerate his behavior, then they'd pass him along to someone else. William stopped living for God. He thought God hated him, and wanted nothing to do with him.
In the summer of 1979, everything changed. He was at work, one of his two-week dishwashing jobs. He remembers feeling particularly lonely and unloved. He had really believed his pastor's words that he was useless to everyone. The church had a new pastor, but William didn't see any reason to go back; he was convinced that God hated him. He recalls:
As I stood there in the restaurant kitchen, I suddenly felt the presence of God in the room. It was a feeling I hadn't felt since leaving the church. It was so strong, and felt so good, that it nearly brought tears to my eyes. What happened next changed my life. The radio was playing in the kitchen. Up to that moment, I hadn't even noticed that it was on. I suddenly became aware of a song beginning, a song I'd never heard before. But even as it began, I knew that there was more than just a song at work here. Before the first word was sung, I knew God was speaking to me. He was using that song to tell me something He wanted me to know. I can't really explain how I knew that, but I felt it so strongly, that I had no doubt whatsoever. Billy Joel began to sing, but I knew the words came from God:
Don't go changing to try and please me;
you never let me down before. . .
I would not leave you in times of trouble. . .
I took the good times, I'll take the bad times,
I'll take you just the way you are.
I need to know that you will always be
the same old someone that I knew.
What will it take till you believe in Me,
the way that I believe in you?
I said I love you, and that's forever,
And this I promise from the heart:
I could not love you any better;
I love you just the way you are.
I didn't care that I was at work and others were around: I began to cry. When the song was over, the same voice that called me as a little boy told me that all the condemnation I had felt came not from Him, but from people. He told me His love for me was unconditional. What about the Scriptures? I had to know. But when I asked Him, He said only, "Study." My favorite hobby, ever since I was little, has been studying foreign languages. At eleven years of age, I taught myself to read Greek. By the time I was fifteen, I was teaching French. In my late teens, I was teaching Hebrew. I have a gift for languages, as does my mother, and can pick up a new language and be fluent in a matter of months. I always thought it was just a hobby, and nothing more. But now, as the Lord told me to study, a new purpose for this gift became clear. What God wanted me to study was the Scriptures. Not English translations of the Scriptures, but Hebrew and Greek. It was in those ancient languages that I would find the answer to my question ‘What about the Scriptures?’
In reading the Hebrew and Greek Bibles, William found no condemnation whatsoever of homosexuality. He learned that his sexuality was a gift from God and was not to be despised or tampered with. God was not going to magically transform him into a heterosexual. If God had wanted him to be that way, He would have created him that way.
With a newly-found faith in God, and a knowledge that God loved him, William returned to the church. He knew their opinions had not changed, yet he refused to pretend to be something he wasn't. He came back without so many things he had left there with: without fears and doubts, without his self-hatred, and, most of all, he came back without his closet. But his faith in God made him unafraid to face the potential wrath of the church. The church's new pastor was an old friend, but he still put William into a position where he had to leave again. Confident that God had renewed his call and had given him the charge that he must share with other men and women, in July of 1980, Carey founded the National Gay Pentecostal Alliance (NGPA). This was the very first Gay-affirming Apostolic Pentecostal church in the world, and only the second Gay-oriented denomination in history.
Within a year, Carey found himself in Omaha, Nebraska. He knew God wanted a work there, but he had no idea where to start. He called a local Gay hotline, and introduced himself and told why he had come to Omaha. The young man on the other end of the line was ecstatic: There was a small group of people in the area, himself included, who wanted a Pentecostal church, but didn't know how to start. Clearly, God was at work, and soon afterward, Family of Pentecost Church was born.
In 1983, Carey moved to Houston, Texas, to assist a new work that had begun there. He first worked with Community Gospel Church, which was part of NGPA during its first year of operation, and later with another small Apostolic Church. In 1984, he prayed for, and received, permission to return to Schenectady. Although it was encouraging and gratifying to see the wonderful works being done in Nebraska and Texas, there was still a heavy burden for the city of Schenectady. During the 1980's, Carey produced a cable TV program seen in much of the Capital District of New York state, entitled "The Lord is My Shepherd, and He Knows I'm Gay" (borrowed from Troy Perry's book).
Anyone who has ever done ministry in Schenectady will tell you, this is not a good city for churches. The city's first problem with a church took place during the American Revolution, when they closed down one of the two churches in the city, seized the building, and used it as a barracks and a hospital. (The building is still standing, and Episcopal services are still held there.) This action set a bad precedent, and Schenectady often found itself on the wrong side of the church. In the late 19th and early 20th centuries, the Salvation Army often found itself the victim of persecution from the city. Pentecostals didn't fare any better. Churches struggle to survive in Schenectady, and most don't make it. It was back to this city that Carey went and pastored Lighthouse Apostolic Church until 1997. During this time, he would keep in constant contact with other NGPA works around the country and visit when able. NGPA foreign missions were expanding by the late 1980's, especially in Russia and Ukraine, and Carey taught himself Russian in order to better communicate with the brave men and women trying to establish works in nations that until recently had been officially atheist, and where gay and lesbian advocacy was in its infancy. He took charge of publishing the NGPA newsletter, the Apostolic Voice, and its Russian version, Apostolsky Golos.
Carey wrote Growing Up in Him: An Apostolic Guide for New Christians, How Many is God? (published in English and Russian), and numerous papers and tracts on doctrine and on the subject of homosexuality and scripture. His writings have been translated into several languages, including Russian and Hebrew.
In late 1997, Carey left Schenectady again, this time for the suburbs of Detroit, Michigan. In 2003, he led NGPA into dialogue with another Apostolic group working in the GLBT community, and following the merger of the two groups, was chosen as Presbyter of the newly formed Apostolic Restoration Mission (ARM). Also in that year, Carey completed his own translation of the New Testament from the Hortcott and West manuscript of the Greek text into modern English, and made it available to the community on CD-ROM. This was later published in paperback. Work was begun on a translation of the Old Testament, but could not be completed due to health reasons.
Between the years 2003 and 2011, Carey published a number of books, among them “Gay and Christian? Yes!”, “The Basics of New Testament Teaching: An Apostolic Guide to Doctrine,” “How Many is God?,” “Repairing the Apostolic Church,” one novel, one children’s book, and one poetry book. Some of these books are available in Spanish, French, Russian and Hebrew.
In April of 2010, Apostolic Restoration Mission merged with the Global Alliance of Affirming Apostolic Pentecostals (GAAAP). In December of that same year, Carey left GAAAP with a number of other ministers and formed the Affirming Pentecostal Church International (APCI). He served as Director of Apostolic Education for that organization until mid-2012. He continues to publish their monthly newsletter, The Apostolic Voice, and serves as President and Dean of Students for the Apostolic Institute of Ministry (AIM), a correspondence training school for ministers. AIM grew out of the Pentecostal Bible Institute, NGPA’s original school founded in Omaha in 1982. Today the school is incorporated in the State of Michigan.
Although officially retired from active ministry, Carey remains available to teach and preach as needed anywhere in the continental US or Canada, and maintains four websites for outreach to the LGBT community and others: Hope Remains (covers the information available in the book Gay and Christian? Yes!), La esperanza permanece (Spanish version of Hope Remains), Надежда пребывает (Russian version of Hope Remains), and Light For Uganda (a site dedicated to creating awareness and combating homophobia in Uganda).
(This biographical statement provided by William Carey.)
Biography Date: July, 2004; rev. 2014
“Rev. William H. Carey | Profile”, LGBTQ Religious Archives Network, accessed November 29, 2023, https://lgbtqreligiousarchives.org/profiles/william-h-carey.