10. Reverend Dr. Nancy Wilson
Reverend Dr. Nancy Wilson has served as the global moderator of the Metropolitan Community Churches since 2005, succeeding the denomination’s founder, the Reverend Troy Perry. As the leader of the world’s first Christian denomination to provide ministry to LGBT people, she was invited to read the opening scripture at President Obama’s Interfaith Prayer Service at the National Cathedral on January 22.
“I know our congregations have been safe spiritual homes for LGBT people and our families for more than 40 years,” she wrote in an op-ed published on the Believe Out Loud blog. “President Obama trusted God and risked everything when he affirmed marriage equality for loving same-gender couples. Christians across this country and this world must risk something in order to save lives. LGBT people are among those who need safe homes, safe churches, and safe countries.”
Additionally, Wilson works to advance civil and human rights around the world through her work on the board of the Global Justice Institute and as a member of the U.S. President’s Advisory Council on Faith-Based and Neighborhood Partnerships.
9. Sister Simone Campbell
In 2012, Sister Simone Campbell and a group of American nuns were issued a Vatican reprimand for not speaking out against LGBT rights and women’s causes. As the executive director of Network, a Catholic lobbying group in Washington, D.C., she led a group of Catholic sisters on a nine-state bus tour called Nuns on the Bus to talk about the morality of decision-making in Congress and the Roman Catholic Church.
In a recent interview with Believe Out Loud, she discussed why she supports LGBT rights and modernizing the Roman Catholic Church. “The Catholic hierarchy has done very poorly at engaging the issues of sexuality, period—their own, or anybody else’s,” she said. “I have said that what we need is a real spiritual renewal among our leadership because for me, following the gospel means be not afraid—welcome everyone, hug them, welcome them close, and live and love.”
In a recent CNN feature, she and fellow sisters talked about their continued work to modernize the culture of the male-dominated Catholic hierarchy to better reflect the diversity of our democratic culture.