March: Welcoming the Rev. Carissa Baldwin-McGinnis


It’s funny who God brings into your life. Over the past few months I have had a series of insightful, hopeful, and altogether very pleasant conversations with another Episcopal priest in our Diocese, the Rev. Carissa Baldwin-McGinnis. I have known Carissa since she was ordained in 2007, but it wasn’t until I came to St. Andrew’s that God provided an opportunity to birth a new friendship.

Carissa and I have talked about many things in our conversations, but most of them have orbited around ministry and the church, and this strange vocation we share called “priest.” Over time the conversations evolved to the point where we started dreaming together of possibilities for her at St. Andrew’s.  

Carissa has a multi-disciplinary background devoted to social justice, including community organization. She is very interested (as am I) in the practice of nonviolence at the city, community, family, and individual level. It is uniquely rare to find a priest with the skill set that Carissa offers.  

Prior to living in Houston, Carissa lived in Pasadena, California, where she was the Director of Peace and Justice at All Saints Church, a prestigious Episcopal parish in the Diocese of Los Angeles. Carissa and her wife, Pam McGinnis, now live in Houston, and are in the process of adopting a daughter who is six months old.

At this time, Carissa is canonically prohibited from serving as a priest in the Diocese of Texas because of her marriage to Pam. In my conversations with Bishop Doyle, the Bishop informed me that within the next year this will no longer be the case, and that all gay and lesbian clergy that are married in this Diocese will be fully licensed. In his address to Diocesan Council, the Bishop delivered this very message to all gathered, anticipating that the canon barring the ministry of Carissa and others - Canon 43 - will be removed at Diocesan Council in 2016.

In anticipation of this event, I have offered, and Carissa has graciously accepted, an invitation for her to preach at St. Andrew’s once a month. In addition, the Vestry approved a motion last month to offer her room for an office as well.

Her contribution here will be non-stipendiary, meaning the parish would not pay her, though my intention will be for her to join me in priestly ministry when the way has been made at the diocesan level.

Our church is growing, and Carissa can be a key person in the planning of our future together.  I am very excited about this possibility, and ask that you keep Carissa, Pam, and their daughter in your prayers.