About the Event
9:00 am Forum and Continental Breakfast
10:00 am Worship
11:00 am Book Signing
In late 1978, the Women of the Church extended an invitation to the Rev. Carter Heyward, a Charlotte native who became the first woman ordained as an Episcopal priest in the nation. In the time between accepting the invitation and coming to MPBC, Dr. Heyward, published an article in the June 11, 1979, edition of Christianity and Crisismagazine explaining her decision to come out as a lesbian. The revelation kicked off a storm of protest from some church leaders who said, among other things, that Heyward’s appearance would damage the church’s annual stewardship campaign. Some deacons urged then Senior Minister, Dr. Gene Owens, to rescind the invitation. The Charlotte Observer published the headline “Invitation To Gay Priest Stirs Up ‘Crisis’ in Church.” Even though there was tremendous pressure, Dr. Owens appealed to our church’s historic belief in the Free Pulpit and did not rescind the invitation, although Dr. Owens said it cost the church forty members.
In November 1979, Dr. Owens and the congregation welcomed Dr. Heyward to the church to preach in worship and for a two-hour forum in Shalom Hall. The response from the public was tumultuous. Letters and phone calls from angry viewers of the television coverage and news reports poured in to The Observer and the church, but many members and Dr. Owens reflected on the episode as one of our church’s finest hours. Now, 43 years later, we celebrate our history as we gratefully welcome Dr. Carter Heyward back to our church.
For more on Rev. Dr. Heyward, click here.