Two Female Baptist pastors in love, and only God knows


Pastor Twanna Gause stepped out of a limousine amid the whir of
cameras outside the New Vision Full Gospel Baptist Church in East
Orange, N.J.

Dressed in an off-white wedding gown and veil that sparkled in the
cascading sunshine, she carried a bouquet of white roses and lilies,
hugged several guests, then parted a sea of well-wishers on the way to
her best friend, Pastor Vanessa Brown, who stood waiting at the altar
in a cream-colored long coat called a sherwani and gold Punjabi jutti
The church doors opened, allowing the faint strains of "You Are So
Beautiful" to float on the hot August air. Pastor Gause stepped
inside, where she was greeted by Bishops Levi Richards and Eugene
Gathers, both of the Fellowship of Affirming Ministries.

"She's our spiritual daughter," Bishop Richards said.
Both men walked Ms. Gause down the aisle, a role she had initially
hoped would be accepted by her father, the Rev. Sam Gause Sr., a
Pentecostal minister who lives in Atlanta.
But Mr. Gause, citing "differences in theological beliefs," refused
his daughter's invitation.
"My father would not come here because he does not believe in same-sex
marriage," Ms. Gause said. "He told me the devil tricked me into this,
and that if we had been married in biblical times, we would have been
stoned to death."
Mr. Gause, who helped raise four other daughters and a son before
divorcing their mother, Cathy Dodson, in 1996, held steadfast in his
"Twanna very well knows I'm not for that kind of lifestyle," he said
by phone in a calm and stern tone several days after the wedding.

"I believe that God wanted us to procreate through a natural process,
and by no means am I happy about this because it is unnatural," he
said. "I look at homosexuality as a mental disorder. If I start to
tell you that I am an elephant, and start to behave as an elephant,
that's my choice, I choose to become an elephant. But you would
probably choose to call a mental institution."

Mr. Gause, long affiliated with the Center of Hope Church of God in
Christ in Riverdale, Ga., said he had no immediate plans to contact
his daughter.
"I will talk to her at some point, I suppose, if she calls me, but I
will not initiate the call," he said. "I do have some words for her
that she needs to hear. I'm not going to condemn her or judge her
because I don't have that authority, but judgment has already been
established by God."

Ms. Brown, 46, and Ms. Gause, 45, both pastors of Rivers of Living
Water United Church of Christ, which has locations in Newark and New
York, heard much softer words on their wedding day while holding hands
before the Rev. Dr. Yvette Flunder, the presiding bishop of the
Fellowship of Affirming Ministries, who read from the First Epistle to
the Corinthians.
"Love is patient, love is kind. … Love hopes and endures all things,"
Bishop Flunder read, as amens and hallelujahs rang out from some the
200-plus guests who flocked to celebrate a love that has endured for
nearly three decades.
"Twanna and I go way, way back," Ms. Brown said.

Once upon an Amazing Grace, two choir girls met at a church in Jersey
City, and before one of them could clear her throat to sing, she
thought she had already caught a glimpse of heaven.
"I was like, 'Oh wow, what in the world, who's that, she's
beautiful,'" recalled Ms. Gause, who was then a 16-year-old living in
Paterson, N.J. "I immediately felt this kind of strange, warm feeling
wash over me, and though I had not yet spoken a word to her, I could
see myself loving this woman forever. My head was just spinning."
Ms. Brown, then 18 and living in New York, was not struck by the same

"I was oblivious as to how Twanna was feeling," Ms. Brown said. "I
looked at her as this adorable, skinny little girl who I initially
thought was so much younger than me, and I had no idea that she liked
me in any way other than as a friend."
Ms. Gause, who said she was hoping for a connection, was crushed.
"Though it broke my heart, I never said a word about my true feelings
for Vanessa because I didn't want it to hurt our friendship," she
said. "And I never said a word to my father because he was so strict,
I knew he wouldn't understand."
Both grew up in religious families — "We didn't hang on street
corners, go to clubs or do drugs, none of that," Ms. Gause said. But
they spent time together at events sponsored by the Hiya Fellowship of
the Saviour Church in Jersey City and at LaGree Baptist Church in
Harlem, which were linked through a minister who served both

Their friendship continued to blossom until the day in 1990 when Ms.
Gause called Ms. Brown to say that her father was moving the family to
"I was devastated," Ms. Brown said. "Twanna had become my best friend
in the whole world, I didn't know what I would do without her."

They kept in touch, and Ms. Gause moved back to Paterson in 1994, and
became engaged to a man there, breaking it off in less than a year and
returning to Atlanta, where she toured with a gospel choir and worked
as a cosmetologist.
The lifestyle newsletter from the Styles, Travel and Food sections,
offering the latest trends to news you can use.
"That relationship just didn't seem right," Ms. Gause said. "Plus I
still had Vanessa on my mind."

But Ms. Brown, who was by then working as a producer and talent
coordinator for "Amateur Night" at the Apollo Theater in Harlem, had
married a man in 2004.
"Even though I was still in love with Vanessa, I never told her it
should have been me," said Ms. Gause, who did not attend the wedding.
"But I knew for sure it shouldn't have been him."
Time, and not much of it, proved Ms. Gause right. By May 2005, five
months after it began, Ms. Brown's first marriage was over. "I should
have listened to Twanna," she said.
Later that year, Ms. Brown invited Ms. Gause to give a guest sermon at
Oasis of Love, a church in Harlem where she served as an associate

"We went to dinner and started catching up and talking about our
lives," Ms. Brown said. "Twanna seemed so much more mature than I
remembered her, and she was very sound in her preaching."
For the first time, Ms. Gause began to express her true feelings, and
Ms. Brown began seeing her old friend through "a different set of
eyes," as she put it.

After dinner, they strolled through Ms. Brown's Harlem neighborhood
until they came to the brownstone where she lived. They walked up a
short flight of stairs, and Ms. Brown reached for a key to open the
front door. As she attempted to turn the lock, her hand was suddenly
covered by Ms. Gause's. Ms. Brown turned to find Ms. Gause gazing at
her. No words were spoken, though each knew what was coming next.
"She had waited a long time to kiss me, and I knew this was it," Ms.
Brown said. "I was so nervous. My heart started racing."
For Ms. Gause, it was heaven-sent, and nearly 30 years in the making.
"It was a wonderful, wonderful kiss," she said. "Well worth the wait."

They began dating long distance, and during a visit to Atlanta in
2006, Ms. Gause introduced Ms. Brown to her father. She told him she
was a friend with no elaboration.
"I wasn't quite ready to tell him," she said.

Two years later, Ms. Gause was ready. She and Ms. Brown, in Atlanta to
attend a religious conference, arranged a family meeting at the home
of Ms. Gause's mother, who also lives in Atlanta, to tell them that
they were together.
"My father didn't take it too well," Ms. Gause said.
Indeed, they were still in Atlanta two days later, when Mr. Gause,
carrying a large King James Version of the Bible, confronted them in
the lobby of the hotel where the conference was being held.

"He slammed the Bible down on a table and said to us, 'Did you all
read this book?'" Ms. Gause said. "He was furious."
During his recent phone conversation, Mr. Gause said he had actually
stormed the hotel "to confront their pastor over theological beliefs,
but he never showed."
Mr. Gause also made it clear that the passing of time has not healed any wounds.

"We all have a conscience," he said. "It is through that conscience
that we hear from our creator as to what is right and what is wrong,
and if God did not want us to procreate, then why didn't he just
create billions of people with no gender at all? He must have had a
reason for doing what he did."
Mr. Gause, who owned a company in Atlanta that made signs, said: "It
was a mistake that her mother even went to the wedding. Had she
rejected outright that kind of behavior, and become the lovable person
that my daughter was in search of, perhaps Twanna would have had a
different idea about that kind of thing, and not gone elsewhere to
seek love."
When asked about Mr. Gause's absence at the wedding reception, an
elegant affair at il Tulipano in Cedar Grove, N.J., Bishop Richards
said simply: "God has a way of honoring us when others won't."

Ms. Dodson, who spent most of the evening chatting with Ms. Brown's
mother, Mary Ellen Brown, did not mince words when talking about her
ex-husband's refusal to attend.
"He has no right to judge them," she said. "I tried to get him to come
here tonight but it was a losing battle. He asked me why I would even
bother showing up, and I said to him, 'All you need to remember is
that Twanna is my daughter, and I love her, and I have her back no
matter what she does, and that's why I'll be there.'"

Ms. Brown, who graduated from New York Theological Seminary in May,
and Ms. Gause, who graduated from Essex County Community College with
an associate's degree in social science and is now studying for a
bachelor's in social work at Rutgers, are moving forward with their
lives, "with or without my father's blessings," Ms. Gause said.
"Don't get me wrong, I still love him," she said. "I still call him on
birthdays and holidays and special occasions, though he never picks up
the phone."

"Maybe one day he will realize that nothing has really changed with me
except for the fact that I've found my perfect soul mate, and he'll
feel like talking to me again," she said. "But no matter what my daddy
says about me or what he thinks of me, he knows down deep, deep inside
that I'll always be his little girl."

Bigi Benson,
Contact: +233579090453

No comments

Comments Does Not Reflect The Views Of AYOOGHANA.COM

Contact Us On: +233243396211 to report misconduct