Celebrating a new reverend - KTTC Rochester, Austin, Mason City News, Weather and Sports

By Crystal Oko

Celebrating a new reverend


ROCHESTER, MN (KTTC-DT) - It's a story you'll see first on the NewsCenter.

A few weeks ago we told you about a Kasson church that voted to leave the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America over the group's policy on accepting gay clergy.

And while some Christian denominations are torn over whether or not to embrace gay clergy, the United Church of Christ has a history of opening its arms to all.

Kayla Bonewell is openly gay and the newest reverend at the Peace United Church of Christ in Rochester.

Five members of the church made the trip to Oklahoma City this weekend to support Bonewell as she was ordained there this weekend.

Ash Wednesday services are traditionally somber ones, marking the beginning of Lent.

But at Peace United Church of Christ, this service was also a celebration.

"We are terribly excited about Kayla being here," said Reverend Paul Bauch.

Kayla Bonewell took to the pulpit for the first time as "Reverend."

She is also openly gay.

"It feels really wonderful to be accepted and affirmed for who you are in this denomination," said Reverend Kayla Bonewell.

She was voted in with the highest numbers ever seen in the church and is being welcomed by this congregation with open arms.

"We don't discriminate whether they are gay or straight. We hire the best person, who God is calling to be with us," said Reverend Paul Bauch.

Bonewell says she felt the calling to serve when she was just 15-years-old. But hadn't found a denomination that would allow her to because of her sexuality until she found the United Church of Christ.

"It's just one part of who I am, of course it's definitely shaped my life experiences. I've experienced what it's been like to be discriminated against," said Bonewell.

And while Bonewell hasn't always been accepted for who she is. She can be at Peace knowing that in this congregation's eyes-she is just another person of God.

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