“If you want to preach to the time you are residing in …language then has to replicate what people are using,” the Rev. Irene Monroe said on her podcast, “All Revved Up!” on WGBH, a Boston member station of NPR.
She was talking about the gender of God and the attempts in the church to move away from male-dominated language with her co-host, the Rev. Emmett G. Price III. Monroe told her audience that using language that personifies God without gender is a necessary change that will make the Bible more accessible to future generations.
“We need a gender-fluid, non-binary deity,” Monroe said. “I am always redacting the Bible, so I will always try to use as much inclusive language as I can.”
Monroe will serve as chaplain at Chautauqua for Week Eight. She will preach at the 10:45 a.m. Sunday, August 12, ecumenical morning worship service. Her sermon title will be “Healing Our Personal ‘isms.’ ”
She will share her faith journey at the 5 p.m. Sunday, August 12, Vespers at the Hall of Philosophy. Monroe will preach at morning worship at 9:15 a.m. Monday, August 13, through Friday, August 17, in the Amp.
Her sermon titles for the week include “The Conceptual Trap of Piety,” “When Our Better Angels Don’t Speak Up,” “The Act of Going Away Closer,” “God Writes Straight with Crooked Lines” and “Jesus Cussed and I Do, Too!”
Monroe is an ordained minister and motivational speaker. She speaks for a “sector of society that is frequently invisible,” according to the Women’s Media Center. She does the weekly Monday podcast, “All Revved Up!,” and is a weekly Friday commentator on New England Channel NEWS.
A Huffington Post blogger and a syndicated religion columnist, Monroe’s writing appears in cities across the country and in the United Kingdom, Ireland and Canada. Her weekly column appears in the Boston LGBTQ newspaper, Baywindows, as well as the Cambridge Chronicle. She has written opinion pieces for The Boston Globe.
Her columns, she said in her HuffPost bio, “are an interdisciplinary approach drawing on critical race theory, African-American, queer, and religious studies,” while also focusing on sexism, classism, and anti-Semitism. She has spoken on these issues at the United Nations International School.
A founder and now member emeritus of the National Black Justice Coalition, Monroe is also a founder of Equal Partners of Faith, the Religious Coalition for the Freedom to Marry and Christian Lesbians Out.
She was chosen in October 2009 by MSNBC as one of 10 Black Women You Should Know, and has has been profiled in O, the Oprah Magazine, and in the gay pride episode of “In the Life TV,” a segment nominated for an educational Emmy.
A native of Brooklyn, New York, Monroe graduated from Wellesley College and Union Theological Seminary at Columbia University. She attended Harvard Divinity School for her doctorate after serving as a pastor at an African-American church in New Jersey.
She received the Harvard University Certificate of Distinction in Teaching several times, during which time she was also the head teaching fellow of the Rev. Peter Gomes, the Harvard Pusey Minister in the Memorial Church.
Monroe was featured in the film, “For the Bible Tells Me So,” produced and directed by Chautauquan Dan Karslake. The film is an exploration of the intersection between religion and homosexuality in the United States.
Her coming out story is profiled in “CRISIS: 40 Stories Revealing the Personal, Social, and Religious Pain and Trauma of Growing up Gay in America,” as well as in “Youth in Crisis.”
Profiled twice in the Globe for her LGBTQ activism, in 1997 Boston Magazine cited her as one of Boston’s 50 Most Intriguing Women.
In 1998, Monroe was the first African-American lesbian to receive the honor of being grand marshall in the Boston Pride Celebration.
For her activism, she has received numerous awards, and her papers are in the Schlesinger Library at the Radcliffe College research library on the history of women in America.