ELM Blog: The Gay Man Who Became My Faithful Godmother by Mycah McNett

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When I followed my heart after college to do a year with Young Adults in Global Mission (YAGM) with the ELCA, I did not expect that one of my best friends for years to come would be a 68-year-old Sister of Perpetual Indulgence.

To be honest, as a freshly graduated college student and someone who still was not quite out to herself, no less anyone else in my life, I was not sure what I was getting into by serving a church in Manchester, UK. What I found while I was there was the most welcoming, affirming, and diverse congregation that was excited to worship and be part of their local community for the benefit of everyone. It was the first congregation I had spent a significant amount of time in that so vocally and firmly believed that LGBTQIA+ people were beloved children of God and fully affirmed as we are.

One of my first outings with our church on the few days of arriving was to attend Manchester Pride and provide affirming messages of love from a faith perspective. We stood between the protesters and the rest of the parade, and it was from our spot on the sidelines that someone pointed out the float that one of our church members was riding. Alan was proudly in his full regalia as Sister Latex (OPI), waving with the other sisters.

(Left Photo) Alan and Mycah on a walk along a canal – he loved to walk around Manchester and share the city with me.

(Right Photo) Alan – Sister Latex OPI – posing with several Sisters of Perpetual Indulgence at a Pride event. Alan is all the way to the left in this group.

Alan was the sacristan and always prepared the altar for worship (I learned more at his side about liturgical theology than I perhaps did in my own seminary class, sorry professor!). He also often prepared the other altar in our church, the counter where we hosted hospitality tea and cake. If no one baked a cake, he would pop around to the shops to get one and make sure we had enough tea to go around. In his spare time, he started a ministry teaching English to victims of human trafficking who lived near our church, getting a whole army of volunteers together to support our neighbors. He spent the rest of his volunteer time with an adult day center for people with dementia.

My friend, bless him, taught me what it was to be a follower of Jesus.

Alan came out as gay early in life, when he was sixteen and immigrated from a small town in Ireland to London, where he had a career in theatre and teaching. He joined the Sisters of Perpetual Indulgence while there and shared so many wonderful stories of the loving chaotic ministry they did together.

We kept in near-weekly contact for a few years after I moved back to the US before he was diagnosed with cancer that he never recovered from. Even when he was too tired to respond, I would send him my latest updates from the States and remind him how deeply he was loved by his friends who became family, and by his creator.

Alan’s steady presence in faith and in my life was part of what brought me to my own understanding with God that I am a queer woman called to serve God’s people. I like to think of him as my faithful gay godmother who cheers me on in ministry every day.

The Sisters of Perpetual Indulgence are celebrating their 45th anniversary this Easter, and are distributing $45,000 in grants! The $250-$1000 grants are for projects that serve the Bay Area or particularly embattled communities in other locales around the country and the world that promote wellness, joy, tolerance, and diversity within our communities. Find out more about the grants and how to apply here.

The Rev. Mycah McNett graduated with honors in Biblical and Lutheran studies from United Lutheran Seminary. She was called as the second pastor at Saint Luke Lutheran Church in Devon, PA in the summer of 2023. Before seminary, Pastor Mycah served in church communication and youth ministry roles in Harrisonburg, VA, and was an ELCA Young Adult in Global Mission participant. Since 2022 Pastor Mycah has served on the Board of Directors for Extraordinary Lutheran Ministries, and is an active member of the Proclaim Community for LGBTQIA+ Lutheran Rostered Leaders. Pastor Mycah lives in Downingtown with her spouse, Alyssa, and three cats, Minnie, Clio, and Clem.

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