Rev. Dr. Rebecca Ann Parker—Highlighting the Divine in Our World

Rev. Dr. Rebecca Ann Parker remembers the day that the marriage between same-sex couples was legalized in California in 2008. She remembers the joy she experienced and witnessed around her when justice prevailed in the state she makes her home. Of course, due to Proposition 8, that joy is gone but hope remains that soon Californians will feel that joy again. 

Rev. Parker is a United Methodist minister with dual fellowship with the Unitarian Universalist Association. She is currently the President and a Professor of Theology of the Starr King School for the Ministry, a Unitarian Universalist seminary that is part of the Graduate Theological Union at the University of California, Berkeley. She has served as a parish minister and taught at the Northwest Theological Union in Seattle. She is a cellist, an author, a scholar, and an inspirational religious leader. And for over thirty years she has worked both as a United Methodist minister and a Unitarian Universalist minister as a religious activist for women’s issues and LGBT issues, including the freedom to marry. 

When Rev. Parker thinks of the freedom to marry, she sees it first as an expansion of joy. “The whole notion of the freedom to marry is an expansion of joy and love for all people,” says Rev. Parker. 

But it is not only an expansion of joy to Rev. Parker. It is also an expansion of justice and equality and a great liberation for same-sex couples. The freedom to marry is the relief to the great injustice of gay and lesbian couples being denied the rights, privileges and protections marriage provides and the recognition of their love and commitment to one another. “It is an opportunity for healing in the fabric of our social conscience,” says Rev Parker. “Marriage is about human love and family and commitments, and no government should undermine that.” 

As a person not of one but two faiths, Rev. Parker has found that the freedom to marry relates to her faith as a Unitarian Universalist and as a United Methodist. 

As a Unitarian Universalist, “the freedom to marry represents to core of the affirmation of my faith.” As a Unitarian Universalist, standing on the side of love and honoring the sacredness of relationships, of human beings, and the interdependent web of existence of which all are a part are fundamental aspects of her faith. “Without the freedom to marry, I would not be able to practice my faith,” according to Rev. Parker. “Denying the freedom to marry to same-sex couples is to hamper on my freedom to religion.” 

As a United Methodist, she sees the divine reflected in the diversity of humanity. Therefore, to honor that diversity, to acknowledge the divine found here among us, honoring people, relationships, commitments and family equally is a primary aspect of her faith. She speaks of seeing the faces of the divine here among us and winning the freedom to marry is a way to make those faces shine. 

“I want to find, to highlight and bring light to all of the good things in this world,” says Rev. Parker. “And the freedom to marry brings more good into our world.”