March 04, 2009

Pioneers in GLBT Faith: Rev. Robert W. Wood

From the LGBT Religious Arcihves Network:

Wood was ordained in the Congregational Christian denomination on June 17, 1951 in Fair Haven, Vermont. He served on the staff of Broadway Tabernacle in New York City for two years and then as pastor in Spring Valley, New York, for 11 years; in an inner-city congregation in Newark, New Jersey, for 13 years; and finally in Maynard, Mass. for eight years. During this time, he served six years on the United Church of Christ's Board for Homeland Ministries and another six years on the Board for World Ministries.

Robert engaged Christian attitudes toward homosexuality throughout his ministry. In 1956 he wrote an article entitled "Spiritual Exercises" for a gay physique magazine Grecian Guild, in which his photo in a clerical collar appeared. After meeting Donald Webster Cory, author of the ground-breaking 1951 book The Homosexual in America, Robert started writing a book on Christianity and homosexuality. Christ and the Homosexual was published in 1960 by Vantage Press. Wood's photo appeared on the dust jacket and his congregation was identified in the book. All 5,000 printed copies were sold. A review in ONE magazine said: "Sparkling, intimate, compassionate and well-informed--this book is among other things probably the best and most readable description of gay life currently in print...This is the first book written by a responsible clergyman to welcome homosexuals into the Church without demanding that they give up the practice of homosexuality." Wood was honored with Awards of Merit from the Mattachine Society and The Prosperos that year. In August, 1962, Wood was a featured speaker at the Ninth Annual Conference of the Mattachine Society. He was the only clergy among 18 gay men and 7 lesbians who picketed in front of the Civil Service Building in Washington, D.C. on June 25, 1965, in a protest organized by Frank Kameny.

Click here to read the rest of the profile for Rev. Wood.

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