From Columbus, Ohio USA, Darlene Garner is a lesbian Christian woman of African, Cherokee, and Irish descent with a National Baptist and Episcopal spiritual heritage. She came out as a lesbian in 1973 and joined Metropolitan Community Churches in 1976. As a lay person, she served as a Church Treasurer, Lay Delegate, and Assistant District Coordinator. Garner was ordained to the professional ministry in 1988 and has served as Associate Pastor of MCC in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania; Pastor of MCC in Baltimore, Maryland; Senior Pastor of MCC of Northern Virginia in Fairfax, Virginia; and Interim Pastor of Good Hope MCC in Cape Town, South Africa. Since 1998, she has been the convener of the MCC Conference for People of African Descent, Our Friends, and Allies.
On the MCC Council of Elders since 1993, Darlene Garner served as Clerk of the denomination for ten years and Vice-Moderator for three years. She currently supports the Networks of churches and leaders in Australia/New Zealand, Latin America/Caribbean, Western Europe/United Kingdom, and Southern California/Nevada. In addition, she is the Director of the Office of Emerging Ministries, which provides oversight of and support for new church starts, affiliations, diversity and inclusivity, special projects, and missiology.
Before entering the professional ministry, Garner served as the Executive Director of the Philadelphia Mayor’s Commission on Sexual Minorities. In that position, she functioned as the liaison between the government of the sixth largest city in the United States and its LGBT community.
Garner’s volunteer community involvement has included being a founding co-chair of the National Coalition of Black Lesbians and Gays; being part of the historical first meeting between the U.S. White House and gay and lesbian people of color; chairing the first International Conference for Gay and Lesbian People of Color; serving as chaplain for an AIDS hospice; serving on the Board of Directors for a health clinic; and President of the Board of Northern Virginia AIDS Ministry. She has also served as a member of the Philadelphia Commission on Human Relations (hearing complaints of discrimination based on sexual orientation, race, gender, and national origin) and of the West Hollywood Business License Commission. She currently is a member of the Human Rights Campaign (HRC) Religion and Faith Council and of the HRC Diversity and Inclusivity Council. Garner has received numerous awards and citations for her service to the community.
Darlene Garner has attended Ohio State University, Samaritan College, and Lancaster Theological Seminary. She is the mother of four adult children, has seven grandchildren, and three great-grandchildren. Garner and Rev. Candy Holmes were married in March 2010 and live with their canine son Joey in Bowie, Maryland USA.
(This biographical statement provided by Darlene Garner.)