An Exclusive Interview with Openly Gay Nigerian Reverend Rowland Jide Macaulay.
House of Rainbow Metropolitan Community Church Lagos Nigeria is a church that welcomes Lesbians, Gays, Bisexuals and Transgender people, an inclusive ministry that welcomes all people. This church opened its door to all persons on the 2nd September 2006 and has reached thousands of queer people both in Nigeria, in other African nations and also giving hope to people in other developing nations across the globe. This church is no stranger to controversy and never the less they are growing from strength to strength and with the age of Internet and new media Reverend Macaulay shows no sign of slowing down.
Rev Rowland Jide Macaulay the founding pastor speaks of his convictions as the servant of God in due season bringing hope to the queer people in Nigeria and elsewhere.
What do you plan to do this year in Nigeria?
We are continually obedient to the voice of God and the Holy Spirit. We plan to reach people where they are, as we know that the nation and many of the people seem to be ignorant of the existence of queer people.
This year we are asking people to pray with us, and if you are online and have access to the internet you can join Rev Jide in a circle of prayers from the 1st to 6th September 2009, many communities all over the world will be holding prayer service for the anniversary of House Of Rainbow that is being rolled out to ask God for favour and protection for queer people in Nigeria and other places where there is hostility towards them.
How about the physical presence of the people?
LGBT people in Nigeria and especially our members will be celebrating in the country, however this year we have decided to be completely tight lipped about any information that the people or the media can use against us to harm us. We learned from last year. But we believe that as we develop away from the media intrusion we are preparing a massive launch of our mission in the future. This is a time we identify as “exilic times”, we are travailing in the presence of God with our petitions and supplications, and when we get to the post exilic times we would celebrate.
What are we to expect for the 2009 celebration?
As we mark House Of Rainbow MCC, 3rd Anniversary in 2009, unlike last year, when we rolled out the red carpet and had a huge celebration under the scrutiny of the Nigeria media, this year House Of Rainbow has decided on a much more discreet celebration across the nation and the rest of the world. Our events will begin on the 1st to 6th September 2009 and we are tight lipped about the details of the event.
What are your thoughts on the intrusive events last year?
As the founding Pastor of the movement in Nigeria, we are delighted and continue to thank God almighty for the extra ordinary events last year, which no doubt placed our church in the centre of the struggle for equality for gays and lesbians and other marginalised groups of people in Nigeria and indeed any other place where legal hostilities are conducted against these communities.
It is sad that in the 21st century we are unable to celebrate openly a worship and praise to God for the marvellous creations of gays and lesbians, our families, relatives and allies.
People have said that you are law breakers.
We are law abiding and contributors to the world economy, have you not heard of the “Pink Currency” we are creative in our thinking and doing, we are a blessing according to events in the recorded ancient biblical writings. Our historical presence links us with Kings, Queens and their Kingdoms, we enjoy the favour of God in the service of royalty. However today we have to fight tooth and nail to even get a place to express our humanity let alone freely worship God.
What gives you so much strength and how do you cope with the criticism?
We as a community and personally as the leader of this great community of people, believe that God is in control and it is not over until God have spoken, we believe just like the community of the Jewish people under the leadership of Nehemiah, who God called to rebuild Jerusalem in the midst of hostility, he received exemplary criticism for his vision of the new Jerusalem. The Prophet becomes a model of servant leadership for the queer Christian community and for the queer community. Nehemiah rebuilt a community wounded from exile. That is what I believe my call is for the new age queer Christian community in Nigeria and the rest of the world, to be healed from their wounds. Let me explain this with a simple analogy, House Of Rainbow MCC Lagos Nigeria embodies a vision of hope, healing and reconciliation for the Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and transgender community, what we do as a ministry is work in the spirit realm collecting discarded vessels from the rubbish bins of other religious communities and bringing them home, to a safe place where they can be ministered to and nourished to good health, if you can imagine mending a broken vessel, it will also appear broken on the outside, however the ministry of House Of Rainbow is to rebuild the vessels so that they are reusable, though they appear broken we believe that the inclusive love of Jesus and the grace of God will sustain us.
Many Churches will not accept homosexual behaviour, why are you different?
Many queer Christians have been excluded from their churches or have been forced into exile from their denominations because of their sexual orientation and primarily due to “Bad Theology”. House of Rainbow is a welcoming church to the unchurched and exiled queer Christians. As a modern day Nehemiah, I believe that my ministry is to embark on the inclusive work of the mission for the reconciliation of Sexuality, Spirituality and faith.
With this in mind we celebrate our third year anniversary, giving glory to God and we can count our blessings and achievements in the past 12 months.
Why did you close the church in Nigeria?
Last year we closed the physical presence of our church and developed a small group of people across the nations, our friends all over the world in different religious communities continue to hold us in prayers and communion. We did because the violence was extreme and our properties were attacked, vandalised, looted and a few of our security guards were wounded.
What is the latest development for the church?
Whilst my ministry takes me to many places all over the world, my core focus was centred on the development of the people in Nigeria and we have grown in numbers in our local meetings, local leaderships and also on our virtual mission in order to reach more people, we posted nearly 50 videos of inclusive messages, and activities, with nearly 30,000 hits, to encourage LGBT people in Nigeria and other developing nations. We have an online forum subscribed by nearly 500 members. So we ask people to pray with us, sign on to the internet and join our inclusive mission online.
Why do you think House Of Rainbow was being attacked?
In the story of Nehemiah and the Jewish people, and their desperation in Jerusalem, it was clear that they are in a very delicate situation as their city has no fortified walls to protect them and without walls around the city it was vulnerable to all types of marauders. It was constantly being attacked, impoverished and diminished. Like LGBT people in Nigeria and other hostile nations, people lived in fear daily and the city of Jerusalem was in disrepair and the people were disheartened, discouraged and afraid. The constant attacks of the Jews can be likened to the irrational attacks on House Of Rainbow people and LGBT people in general, these attacks poisoned and tore us from the inside.
Unfortunately the condition of Jerusalem and its people serves as an all too accurate analogy of what has happened spiritually to the lesbian and gay community. Too often we have had our place taken from us and we have been left vulnerable to the repeated attacks of radical fundamentalists.
How do you see the relevance of your call for the queer community?
We strongly claim God’s grace includes gays and lesbians, however the assaults from religious communities, Politicians and Civil society have a toxic effect on our souls. It is these terrible conditions of injustice that informs my call to ministry in the queer community, I sense the call of God to do something about it and in the third year of the mission I am clear that the call of God is profound and beyond a shadow of doubt a liberating mission to save lives and win souls. Like Nehemiah, I am not a Politician or Soldier, but I believe in the spiritual leadership of the queer people amongst us.
Who are those who inspire and encourage you?
Despite what may have been published in the media, My father, Professor Augustus Kunle Macaulay is not just my father, he is my friend, confidant, a mentor and more, his inspiration and love cannot be matched. Dorothy AkenOva of INCRESE is a champion and leader amongst leader, a sister and a friend. There are many people of God that inspire me, we have been blessed with prayers and support from the founder of MCC Rev Elder Troy D. Perry and the leaderships, we also have been blessed by the openly gay Bishop of New Hampshire, Archbishop Gene Robinson in the USA, Rev Pressley Sutherland, a great friend and brother the Senior Pastor of GoodHope MCC Cape Town South Africa. Friends and members of House Of Rainbow, including people we have reached out to inspire me, William Rashidi, of Queer Alliance, Joseph Akoro, of The Independent Project for Equal Rights, Stephen Chukwumah, of Youth Together Network just to mention a few, there many more people that gives me strength and encouragement.