In October of 2015, the Oprah Winfrey Networked Aired an episode of the award winning Iyanla, FIx My Life show where ordained minister Rev. Derek Terry stood before a congregation of his church, family, and friends and spoke the words, ” I am a black, gay, man who ministers.” (See the article featured in Gawker for more info). This episode garnered some of the highest ratings in the show’s five season history. Recently, CNN’s new millennial news network, Great Big Story, interviewed Rev. Derek to catch up with him and his congregation (full feature story here). Although the church is 140 years old, predominantly white, and once very conservative they hired a young, black, openly gay pastor and LOVE HIM!
Great Big Story: A new online network owned by CNN that provides short interesting videos through their website (GreatBigStory.com), mobile app, and CNN.
The Church: Rev. Derek is currently the head pastor of the St. Peter’s United Church of Christ in Cincinnati, Ohio. The church was founded in 1876 as a German Evangelical and Reformed church. Early church services were all in German, then an English service was added in the 1920’s. The church was 100% white until the 1990’s and hired it’s first black assistant pastor in the mid 2000’s. The church even used host minstrel shows in the 1940’s and 1950’s where members dressed in black face (photos are available). Rev. Derek is the first black head pastor of the once very conservative and once all white congregation. Rev. Derek is also the first openly gay pastor at the church. The church is multicultural and multiracial (about 60% white 35% black). The members of the church are from a variety of political beliefs as well (many democrats and republicans in the church). The average age of a church member is 63 years old. Even though the church is full of old, white, conservative Christians they hired and absolutely LOVE their young, black, openly gay pastor. The worship services are lively. The sermons are thought-provoking. Two individuals did leave after Rev. Derek came out on the Oprah Winfrey Network but more have come to be apart of the church. The congregation is proud of their pastor and proud of the work he does. The church is steadily growing and adding younger families and individuals to the fold. They attribute much of their new success and motivated spirit to the energy and excitement of Rev. Derek’s ministry.
After the Show: Since coming out on national television, Rev Derek continues to live walking in his truth. He has amassed an ever growing and thriving following on social media (Facebook/Instagram/Twitter/Youtube/Snapchat/Periscope). He is also the founder of thehashtag, #BlastTheStigma, which encourages individuals to post positive images that attack typically stigmatized communities especially those within the LGBTQ community of color. Rev. Derek recently Released his first book, God Loves Me and So Do I, (2015 RDTM Publishing). Rev. Derek also works to help LGBTQ college students of color across the country, because he understands that LGBTQ students of color have different needs than their white counterparts. Most notably, Rev. Derek has helped establish a scholarship fund for black LGBT students at his alma mater, the University of Louisville in Louisville, Kentucky. On May 6, 2016 in Louisville, KY he will host the inaugural Kentucky Derby Scholarship Shake, a fundraiser gala to raise money for the Dawn Wilson Scholarship Fund for Black LGBT students at the University of Louisville.