The recently-installed (February) minister of Roxboro United Church in western Montréal, Rev. Darryl Macdonald, has been selected to be this year’s recipient of the prize named for my late brother, Craig, when the United Theological College holds its convocation in May.
Rev. Macdonald was educated at the Presbyterian College adjacent to UTC.
This is where the story gets interesting and makes him such a great fit for Craig’s prize.
Darryl worked as a supply minister and in street outreach for a Presbyterian congregation (he had been a Presbyterian all his life) in Lachine and was then asked to become their fulltime minister.
When he thought it best to reveal that he was gay, and in a commited relationship, he asked the congregation to double-check their decision which they did and in the affirmative.
While most in the regional body of the church were in agreement with this bold move, they and others watched nervously as their sister denomination, the United Church of Canada, worked through its fairly recent decision not to disallow the ordination of lesbians and gay men. And there were enough dissenters to take the matter to the general assembly of the national Presbyterian Church.
A committee recommended that Rev. Macdonald’s ordination should go ahead only if he ended his relationship and practiced celibacy.
The General Assembly agreed.
The congregation was ordered to remove Rev. Macdonald and otherwise threatened with banishment from the national church. Before they could be cast out, members of the congregation voted to withdraw.
It is living openly and honestly through such an ordeal as this which Craig had in mind when he set out plans for the award in his memory.
As Craig’s partner Claude reminded us at the inaugural presentation last year, Craig often said that living in the closet was much more difficult than living with HIV. Craig used to describe the act of confiding his sexuality to individuals or small groups, while he was still in active ministry, as inviting people into his closet.
He experienced much more freedom in his retirement but that image of people going into his closet, rather than him coming out, is a powerful one.
Sources: UTC, religioustolerance.org