Bonham residents Linda Page and Stephanie O’Connor are active members of the congregation and frequent guest preachers at the Bonham Ministry, the church on Oak Street.

Both women are graduates of the church’s theological seminary in Springfield. Both hold a master of divinity degree, the final academic requirement for being ordained as ministers.

However, in spite of these credentials, both have been denied ordination in the Church U.S.A. The reason?

Both are out-front lesbians.

As explained by Page, there are many rivers to cross before a person becomes a minister in the Church.

First, you must lake a psychological test and get a go-ahead from the candidates’ committee of the local governing body of the church, which in Page and O’Connor’s case is the Bonham Presbytery, covering a wide area from north to the state’s border. Next, you must undergo four years of theological study in a seminary, the third year of which is spent as a pastoral intern in an established church.

Finally, you must take an examination and be certified by the local Presbytery.

“You get your degree from the seminary, but it’s the church that certifies you”, Page points out. “Then you can circulate your resume to look for a job. Once you’re called [by a church congregation] to a position, you are ordained as a minister for that position”.

Page was certified as a pastoral candidate by the Bonham Presbytery in September of 2015. However, just one year later, her certification was revoked by the judicial commission of the Presbyterian Church U.S.A.

So why go through a minimum of four hard years of work, study, and wrenching doubt in the face of almost certain rejection? Perhaps, it is more a challenge to Bonham citizens, who have to learn how to accept people judging only by their deeds.