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Southern Gospel Singer Kenny Bishop is Now a Gay United Church of Christ Pastor

kenny bishop

Kenny Bishop grew up in an Evangelical home in Waco, Kentucky. As a teen, Kenny joined with his father and brother Mark to form the southern gospel group The Bishops. For the next eighteen years, The Bishops traveled the country singing at churches, concert venues, and conventions. I had the privilege of hearing The Bishops sing on several occasions, first at the Gospel Barn in Hillsdale, Michigan and then at an outdoor concert near Berea, Kentucky.

Music by The Bishops frequently wafted from our home during the 1980s and 1990s. My wife and I were raised in churches that loved southern gospel music. We’ve attended numerous southern gospel concerts, and while students at Midwestern Baptist College we attended concerts at nearby Emmanuel Baptist Church that featured The Happy Goodman Family and The Cathedral Quartet. In the late 1990s, our music tastes moved away from southern gospel as we began listening to contemporary Christian music, Christian rock, and praise and worship music. Today, I will, on occasion, listen to southern gospel music on Spotify, even though I don’t believe a word of the lyrics. There is something about the music that reaches me at an emotional level. Polly, on the other hand, prefers that the only time Christian music of any kind is played in our home is when she isn’t there. I find it interesting how each of us has a very different response to music from our past. For me, it’s not that the songs “speak” to me. I find many of songs lacking theologically and intellectually. But, there’s something about the harmonies that appeal to me. Polly? She’s definitely a secular rock aficionado. I love rock music too, but I am not willing to throw all the music away from my past. Does this mean that I am still hanging on to God and Christianity? Not at all. Music affects all of us deeply, often in ways we don’t fully understand. Southern gospel music was a part of our Christian life for over forty years. It should not surprise anyone that this music still appeals to me at some level.

Several days ago, I had a hankering for music from The Bishops. As I was listening, I thought, “I wonder where Kenny Bishop is today?” I knew he left the family group in 2001, began working for several politicians, and went through a divorce from his wife of fifteen years, but I had no idea what he was up to today. I suspected that he was still singing southern gospel music. Little did I know that Kenny had strayed far from his Fundamentalist Christian roots and was now a married gay man and a bivocational pastor at Bluegrass United Church of Christ in Lexington, Kentucky!

Talk about finding the unexpected — a liberal, gay Kenny Bishop. I definitely didn’t see that one coming. That said, I am happy for Kenny and his husband Mason. While I am no longer a Christian, I know that Christianity needs more Kenny Bishops. I have no doubt Kenny was eviscerated for his repudiation of Evangelical orthodoxy and their hatred of LGBTQ people. I know first-hand how it feels to be cut a thousand times by people who once loved you, people who were your family, friends, and colleagues in the ministry. Kenny, it seems, has risen above the anger and judgment and made a new life for himself.  I wish him nothing but the best. He will remain my all-time favorite southern gospel tenor singer. And better yet, he is an example for people who still believe in God, but want to free themselves from Evangelical bondage. For people of faith, there are kinder, gentler expressions of Christianity. As Kenny Bishop’s life shows, one can still meaningfully believe in the Christian God without being Evangelical. While I can’t follow such a path, I don’t condemn others who do.

Let me conclude this post with several videos of Kenny Bishop. Enjoy!

Video Link

Video Link

About Bruce Gerencser

Bruce Gerencser, 61, lives in rural Northwest Ohio with his wife of 40 years. He and his wife have six grown children and twelve grandchildren. Bruce pastored Evangelical churches for twenty-five years in Ohio, Texas, and Michigan. Bruce left the ministry in 2005, and in 2008 he left Christianity. Bruce is now a humanist and an atheist. For more information about Bruce, please read the About page.

Bruce is a local photography business owner, operating Defiance County Photo out of his home. If you live in Northwest Ohio and would like to hire Bruce, please email him.

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  1. Avatar
    Karen the rock whisperer

    As a college undergrad, I was definitely drifting away from the Catholic church. I despised the church hierarchy and the determination to overlook and denigrate the contributions of women to the life of the church. But the local Newman Center, a small Catholic church dedicated to serving the campus Catholic community, had lively, energetic services. The preaching was usually quite humanistic. The music was provided by a dedicated group of student musicians who were damn good. I can still close my eyes and hear them play, some 40 years later. Many of the contemporary hymns were intended for everyone to sing together, but they’d usually have one where they did the singing–and damn, they could sing.

    One Sunday,just for the heck of it, I attended the local parish church Mass. What a difference! The music was provided by a pianist and a guitarist, and everyone–priest, musicians, congregants–all just seemed to be going through the motions. Bleh.

    So, I actually think those Newman Center musicians tacked about three years onto my professed Catholicism.

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      Karen, your Newman Center sounds so much like mine! And it was about 40 years ago, too, when I practically lived at the Catholic Center at UGA.

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    Good for him that he was able to find happiness eventually, but I can’t imagine what he must have gone through in the process.

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    Wow so sad to hear that he turned away from God to be gay for is he doesn’t turn his ways he won’t enter into the Kingdom of Heaven I don’t care how much gospel you sing or preach you must live it holy..for sin will not enter into the kingdom of heaven it’s wrong and it says in the Bible that it’s a sin in many chapters..God didn’t make Adam and Steve he made Adam and Eve…I can imagine what it done to his dad Kenny and his brother Mark it saddens me to know that Satan got ahold of him…

    • Avatar
      Bruce Gerencser

      If “sin” cannot enter the Kingdom of God, neither you nor your fellow Christians will go to Heaven when you die (Romans 3). Or maybe it is just certain sins that bar people from Heaven. It is those evil LGBTQ people that will burn in Hell, not the good porn-surfing Baptists who only engage in Jesus-approved married heterosexual intercourse — missionary position only.

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      Alma Markham

      I agree with you for the Bible teaches against this life style. When watching some of the Bishops on Youtube, there is such an anointing that seems to fall on them when singing. I love to hear them sing. I can’t believe Kenny can turn his back on all this. While I don’t agree with his life style, No sin cannot enter into the kingdom, but God is a forgiving God. I pray for Kenny each Time I hear and see them singing on Youtube.

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    I stumbled upon this post. We do all sin. I’m so glad we have a loving and forgiving God. Life isn’t always easy.
    I love the stories and messages in Gospel Songs. What encouragement!
    I pray for Kenny.
    Bruce read the OT prophecies again-written by prophets in different periods of time without much access to each other. Their words fit together like a glove.
    What is the calculated percentage or probability that these prophesies would come true? Yet they have and are! Ex. There’s 333 concerning Jesus.
    33 were fulfilled just on the day Christ died.
    It’s an exciting read.: ))
    : ))))
    May I suggest you please read: God’s Word, final, Infallible and Forever by Floyd mcElveen? God’s Word is true: ))

    • Avatar
      Becky Wiren

      Renee–Bruce has read the entire Bible numerous times. Now he’s an atheist shining a spotlight on the horrible cult of fundamentalism. Also: there is no scientific proof of any of the happenings in the Bible, no creation, no exodus, at least, not before the Babylon captivity. There seems to be indications there was a man named Jesus, but no proof of resurrection. You can’t use the Bible to prove the Bible! (This is why I’m okay with people believing or not, but I prefer universalism.)

      Here’s the thing: faith is great. Wanting to do good is great. But fundies aren’t interested in real good. They are interested in bullying people who don’t believe the same way and calling it love. If fundies and evangelicals gave up political power and truly began to love their fellow man, Christianity would be a net positive for the world. So far, that isn’t happening.

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    Don snider

    Jesus never said anything bad about gays. The Bible is full of stuff added like Fish on a Friday. When they wrote about the end they said that two women working in the field one is taken.. they also say two men in one bed… one is taken. So one goes to aheven. They also say don’t wear clothing of mixed weave..I’m doomed!

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    In 1 Thess.1 when Christ reveals himself from heaven which will be soon you and all the reprobates will suffer the “ETERNAL” LAKE of FIRE 4EVER separated from Jesus Christ. You and sodomites like Kenny whom you support will have Eternity to suffer unending destruction. It shall be more tolerable for Sodom in that day. Matt. 11:24

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      Bruce Gerencser

      Works for me. As long as we aren’t anywhere near people like you. You’re the proverbial bad neighborhood. Who wants to live there, right?

      Why all the anger and hostility? Just because someone is gay? In a same-sex relationship? What is really driving your hatred of LGBTQ people?

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      Cool story, bro. Needs more dragons.

      In related news, why hasn’t the Hubble telescope managed to pick up that dragon in Revelation that’s supposed to knock one-third of the stars out of the sky with its tail? Unless it has faster-than-light drive onboard, it won’t get here for at least 13.7 billion years. 😀

      • Avatar
        Bruce Gerencser

        Yep, the spell only works if you believe in magic. ? OMG, the scary Bible. Meh. ? Not sure what Eric hoped to accomplish.Maybe Bishop was one of his idols?How many times have we seen Evangelicals turn on their idols? Ugly behavior.

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    Jerry B

    Okay to those of you judging Kenny for coming out, shame on you. This is a lot of why I am turning away from evangelicals. I’m so sick of you holier than thou scumbags who judge someone based on what their sexuality preference is. Last i knew people have the right to be whatever they want and not be afraid what others think.

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    Glen Gillenwater

    I can’t say it doesn’t hurt me deeply to find out that Kenny is gay, I listen to them for years sing. But as the bible dose teach one man to be married to a woman he did not tell Noah to go find a man replenish the earth he had to be married to woman in order to do that. So kenny if u read this I still love u and loved to hear u and Mark and your day sing I can’t support u any longer or listen to your songs.

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    Glen, why would it hurt you that anyone you followed or cared for is gay? What possible impact could their being gay have on your life? Why do you feel the need to preach to the person by telling they are wrong, going against god, and apparently against humanity since they can’t “replenish the earth”? Then follow,all of the insulting, homophobic language with “I still love you” as if it has any truth or real meaning? Shouldn’t you love a person for who they are, and not who you want them to be? Everything you said really seems very self serving.

    While it’s true a gay man cannot reproduce without a woman, many lesbian women have and are doing their part to “replenish the earth.” I also know many gay men who have adopted children, maybe even some of those children that you saved from abortion but ignored after they were born. By your logic anyone who decides to stay unmarried or chooses to not have children are also not following the proper bible teaching.

    I can’t speak for Kenny but I would expect he is much happier now, and is more free of his sin than he ever was under the christian faith

  10. Avatar

    Oh stop being so bloody precious. Wagner was a favourite composer of the Nazis because he was an out and out anti-semite, but I can appreciate his music (most of which is incredibly boring!). This life’s all you’ve got. Stop wasting it.

  11. Avatar
    Bobby Jones

    1 Cor 6:9,10 states, “Or do you not know that the unrighteous will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived: neither the sexually immoral, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor men who practice homosexuality, nor thieves, nor the greedy, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor swindlers will inherit the kingdom of God.”
    Gal 5:19 says, “Now the works of the flesh are evident: sexual immorality, impurity, sensuality, idolatry, sorcery, enmity, strife, jealousy, fits of anger, rivalries, dissensions, divisions, envy, drunkenness, orgies, and things like these. I warn you, as I warned you before, that those who do such things will not inherit the kingdom of God.”
    Rev 21:8 says, “But as for the cowardly, the faithless, the detestable, as for murderers, the sexually immoral, sorcerers, idolaters, and all liars, their portion will be in the lake that burns with fire and sulfur…”

    Your issue, as well as Kenny’s is not with Evangelicals, but rather with God! I am praying for the both of you right now.

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    Ok Bobby, my problem with god is no problem. It’s kinda like voodoo, you have to believe for it to have any control. It’s very clear that god either doesn’t exist or doesn’t give a fuck. But if you have any influence at all, send them my way, I have a few things for which I plan to hold god accountable. While your at it, maybe ask god why they avoid me…is god afraid of someone pointing out their evil ways?

    While you spew your scriptural judgement and veiled bigotry toward me, you might pause to consider that the section “ enmity, strife, jealousy, fits of anger, rivalries, dissensions, divisions, envy” probably has one or more items that apply to you. Since they are all on the same list, I guess your problem is with god and not me.

    You also might want to look up that story about judgement, specks and planks. Or the sheep and goats story. I know it’s Jesus and not Paul, but his words are important too.

    Just in case your miss the point, it is evangelicals that create problems for me, look down on me, spew bigotry at me, try to convince me to change, or attempt to use laws to take away my existence s a non binary person. God has never uttered one word to me. So, yeah, bigots like you ARE the problem, as your words above prove.

    So, go to your church, hang with your members, and leave me alone. My life has a total of zero impact on you nor is my life any of your business.

  13. Avatar
    P Turnbow

    I am a Christian…. Only God has the right to judge what is right and what is wrong.. the ONLY way to get to Heaven is thru reading and studing HIS WORD.. not just certain scriptures.. but the WHOLE bible and PRAYER!!!… my heart breaks for the gay lifestyle because i believe in what His word teaches me.. its SIN.. u cant whitewash it and make into something GOD WANTS and APPROVES OF all each of us can do is do our best to live as God has taught us and pray for the sin of the world…

    • Avatar
      Bruce Gerencser

      You say “Only God has the right to judge what is right and what is wrong,” yet you pass judgment on fellow Christian Kenny Bishop. Hmm . . .

      Further, do you believe, obey, and practice every law, command, and precept in the Bible? Of course not. No Christian does. So, what’s the real issue? I suspect LGBTQ people make you feel uncomfortable. Instead of trying to figure out why, you throw some Bible verses in their direction, saying they are sinners or they are not “real” Christians. Why are people like you so obsessed with the sex lives of others? Does who Bishop loves and has sex with affect you in any way? No. So, this is about YOU, not Kenny Bishop.

    • Avatar

      Mr. or Ms. Turnbow, anyone is free to judge anyone or anything. I, for instance, judge you to be a superstitious homophobe.

      Don’t like the gay lifestyle? Don’t date a person of the same gender. Problem solved!

    • Avatar

      Your heart should be breaking for the discrimination and hate coming from your Christian churches. Christians have done everything in their power to control, regulate, and eliminate gay men and the entire LGBTQIA+ community. This continues even today.

      If Christians had their way, they would lock up all people in the LGBTQ community. Some preachers even call for execution from the pulpit. Churches cover up, ignore, excuse, or forgive preachers who assault men, women, and children, but consider any LGBTQ person as the scourge of the earth. The language used by Christians when referring to LGBTQ people is horrid, especially from people,who are called to love and care for others.

      So you might want to get your house in order before judging others as sinners.

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Bruce Gerencser