Kharma Amos is the pastor of the Metropolitan Community Church of Northern Virginia (MCC NOVA), a progressive Christian community church on Democracy Lane in Fairfax. She is this week's People Profile.
Number of years in the community: Three years.
Family: I live with my partner of eight years, Kala Payne.
Education: I graduated as the valedictorian of my high school class at Inola High School in Inola, Okla. I received a bachelor of arts in religious studies from the University of Oregon, and a master's in divinity from Lancaster Theological Seminary in Pennsylvania.
Current job: I serve as the pastor of MCC NOVA, which is affiliated with Metropolitan Community Churches around the world. We are a movement that faithfully proclaims God's inclusive love for all people and proudly bears witness to the holy integration of spirituality and sexuality. In 2006, MCC NOVA will celebrate 25 years of being a church in Fairfax for all people — and especially for lesbians, gay men, bisexuals and transgender persons, along with our families, friends and allies.
Achievements: I was the youngest member appointed to the Mayor's Commission on the Status of Women in Tulsa, Okla., when I was 20. In seminary, I was awarded the 2000 Fauth Prize for Academic Excellence, the 2001 Rhoads Prize for Biblical Interpretation (Old Testament), and the 2002 Best Written Sermon Commencement Prize. I was also selected as a member of the Inaugural Class of the First Parish Project, a joint project of the Lilly Foundation and the Fund for Theological Education, an ecumenical continuing education and collegial support program for young pastors serving their first churches.
Activities/interests/hobbies: Singing, reading, camping, spending time with friends and family, and working in the community to make a positive difference.
Favorite local restaurant: Cattleya, a fabulous Thai food restaurant in downtown Fairfax.
Community concerns: Like most members of our community, I have broad concerns about the issues we are facing — from ending the war, to improving the quality of education for our children, to helping to providing adequate and affordable health care for every member of our community. Because of the nature of my vocation, I also have very specific concerns about working for equality for lesbians, gays, bisexuals, and transgender persons. Since I have lived in Virginia, hateful and intolerant legislation directly and negatively affecting the LGBT community has been passed. There is also going to be a large struggle in the next couple of years over the issue of amending the state constitution to ban gay marriage. This amendment is unnecessary; it is also unjust.
In terms of how we can work together to improve our community, I believe we need to reclaim the basic value of respect for our natural human diversity. We need to talk to one another and get to know one another, rather than accepting myths that only serve to separate us from our shared humanity. We need to remember that we have so much more in common than we have differences, and we need to spend more energy on strengthening the former than in denouncing the latter. We need to be creative and stay in the room with one another until we find solutions that work, rather than simply fighting to get our way and to get credit for whatever progress is made.
What brought you to the area? I came here specifically to answer the call to pastor MCC NOVA. I was drawn to this particular church because it is committed to being a relevant source of spiritual inspiration and strength for diverse people who want to take their faith seriously and put it into action in the world.
Community hidden treasures: The many grassroots organizations that are working for equality and understanding for all people — Equality Fairfax, Equality Loudoun, Equality Prince William, Equality Virginia, Arlington Gay and Lesbian Alliance, and the many open and affirming spiritual communities that are active in this community. Also Mosaic Harmony — a diverse community choir that sings in the black gospel tradition and is a force of compassion and understanding for all.
Personal goals: I want to be faithful to my calling. I want to help people who have been put off or hurt by the exclusive and hateful actions of faith communities to reclaim their spirituality. I want to help others find their voice to speak out and act for love, compassion, justice, respect, kindness and equality for all people. I want to laugh every day. I want to be a source of love and joy. I want to know, in the end, that my life has mattered.
Do you know someone who should be featured in the Connection's People Profile? Send your nominations to Jon Whiten at firstname.lastname@example.org or call him at 703-917-6422.