Megan Hodge is the pastor of the local nondenominational Whosoever Church, a former Army chaplain and a member of the LGBT community who was defrocked because of her sexual orientation.
Hodge had served as an Army chaplain for almost 12 years when she was stripped of her credentials.
Hodge became the pastor of the Whosoever Church after she left duty as an Army chaplain. She saw that there was an unmet need in the Clarksville community for LGBT people who needed a church. She and her friends and colleagues wanted to create an “open and affirming church” that extended to members of the APSU community who might be struggling with rejection because of their sexuality. Hodge struggled with this rejection herself when she was outed while an Army chaplain.
“I understand many of [my former colleagues] have a conservative theological interpretation of scripture, and by no means do I fault them or judge them for how they believe,” Hodge said. “The difficulty came in losing close friendships, receiving hateful and threatening emails, and the secret conversations by a few on how they would ensure my career failed and how I was now considered a pariah.”
Hodge said her wife was an “emotional rock” during this time and helped her cope. To those who currently live in fear of not being accepted because of their sexual orientation, Hodge said, “I am sorry you have been hurt and that others have slapped one label on you that has covered the million others about you that make you a beautiful person created in the image of God.”
Hodge’s is one story among others that will be told during the Shower of Stoles exhibit on Wednesday, April 22.
The exhibit will be in MUC 306 open from noon to 7 p.m. and is free to the public. The exhibit will feature the stoles of dozens of defrocked ministers, pastors, rabbis and other clergymen who have been discharged for being LGBT.
“We believe it is important to recognize the loss of leadership of men and women who were called by God, but whose calling is denied simply because they were born LGBT,” said Jodi McCullah, director of the APSU Wesley Foundation.
Additionally, Hodge leads service under the supervision of McCullah at the Whosoever Church located in the basement of the Wesley Foundation building across the street from campus. Service is every Sunday at 10:45 a.m.
“If you are in the local community, know that one of those places [to feel safe] is Whosoever Christian Church, where each week we share testimonies, prayer requests, and we confess our fears and struggles openly to one another,” Hodge said.
Hodge will be at the Shower of Stoles exhibit on Wednesday, April 22, to further share her story.
More information on the National Gay and Lesbian Task Force’s Institute for Welcoming Resources, the foundation the exhibit belongs to, can be found at www. welcomingresources.org. Information on the Whosoever Christian Church can be found at www.whosoeverchristianchurch.com and the Whosoever Christian Church Facebook page.
“People are more complex than the labels we put on them, and we would all do well to seek to understand each other with more compassion and reserve our labels for things and our love for people,” Hodge said.