16 June, 2021

Gods And Maidens

She's of Indian extraction, she's gay and she's a church rector. Winnie's story.

Robert Hirschfield
Gods And Maidens
A Different Beat
  • Only 37, Winnie Varghese has been appointed as rector of St Marks In-the-Bowery, an Episcopalian Church.
  • She's gay, works for gay rights. The Episcopal Church passed a resolution in 1976 declaring gay and lesbian people as "beloved of God".
  • Her idea of spirituality: It's who we are on this earth, and how we treat each other on this planet.


Had she walked through the old St Marks In-The-Bowery Church graveyard on March 1, 2009, when she became the first woman of colour/Indian/lesbian rector of her church, Reverend Winnie Varghese might have wondered, "What would the dead think?" There in the graveyard, the bones of some of New York's most prominent Episcopalians rest beneath the square, flattened stones: Daniel Tompkins, the sixth vice-president of the United States; Peter Stuyvesant, the crotchety, 17th century Dutch colonial governor of New York. Varghese's father, a Christian Gandhian who took part in India's...

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