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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9 Comments

  1. Becky Wiren

    Another wholesome gay, married man who is a Christian. It’s wonderful!

    Reply
  2. 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.

    Reply
    1. CarolK

      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.

      Reply
  3. ObstacleChick

    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.

    Reply
  4. DianeC

    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…

    Reply
    1. Bruce Gerencser (Post author)

      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.

      Reply
  5. Renee

    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: ))

    Reply
    1. Bruce Gerencser (Post author)

      *sigh*

      I guess I’ll read the Bible though one of these days — especially the OT prophets.

      Reply
    2. 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.

      Reply

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