“Pastor Craig Duke stepped into a community that has experienced disproportionate church-based trauma to proclaim a message of God’s love for all of creation,” said Ross Murray, GLAAD Media Institute. “Pastor Craig is emulating the example of Jesus, who also spent time with those who were rejected by the pious. That his own church members bully him and the church hierarchy into removing him from his ministry is a disservice to the congregation, to the Evanston community, and to the ministry of the United Methodist Church.”
Duke, who most recently served as pastor at Newburgh United Methodist Church in Newburgh, Indiana, participated in the HBO docu-series We’re Here in which three drag artists travel to small cities and towns to transform local residents into drag performers. Duke, nominated for the show by the local River City Pride organization, was chosen by the show to participate.
According to a Go Fund Me page set up for Duke, the pastor was “relieved of pastoral duties” at the church following the appearance. Duke will continue with the church at a “significantly reduced salary” until no later than Feb. 28, 2022.
“Pastor Craig considers himself to be a man of faith, a father, a husband, a social justice advocate, and ally for the LGBTQIA+ community,” says the Go Fund Me page posted on behalf of Duke. “Craig has a hope and has fought for a fully inclusive church that is welcoming to people of all races, all genders, and all sexual orientations. He longs for a day that all people are able to marry and serve as ordained clergy in the United Methodist Church.”
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