Lydia Meredith’s story is one of faith, tolerance and triumph. She is a mother, activist and best-selling author of “The Gay Preacher’s Wife: How My Gay Husband Deconstructed My Life and Reconstructed My Faith,” a book that chronicles her journey from first lady to becoming a pivotal voice for LGBTQ and human rights.
Lydia Meredith’s seemingly perfect life was ripped apart by the news that her husband of 30 years, Reverend Dennis A. Meredith, had been unfaithful throughout their marriage and was leaving her for another man.
“I was one of those preachers’ wives who sat in the pew on many a Sunday morning while my “real” life was a fraud… I watched my husband stand in that pulpit on Sunday morning, preaching one message and living out yet another,” Meredith wrote in an excerpt in the book.
“I had to make a decision. Did I want to hold on to my pride, my pain, my perception of what I wanted? Or was I going to deal with my new reality and bring my family back together?… The first place I turned to for answers were God. I prayed. I wept. I prayed. I wept. I prayed and I wept. God woke me at 3 a.m. I sat straight up in the middle of my bed. What did Jesus really say about homosexuality? What was Jesus’ message about gays?”
To find the answers, she began pursuing a degree in theology, but while in her pursuit she discovered what was taught in the church and what was actually written in the Bible were quite different. In fact, she said, within the teachings of Jesus, she discovered story after story of tolerance, something that was absent in the church.
“The Church has a moral requirement to look at the current moral fabric of our society and the world and begin to revise the perceived context within the current interpretations. Much of what is over-interpreted today doesn’t fit within the founding principles of the church in the 21st century,” she said.
“The Church needs a new kind of ministry – one steeped in the tradition of the ministry “started” by Jesus. Free of bias, the discrimination, hate or prejudice marked by loving God and others – this is the key to social transformation.”
The lesson in tolerance grew even closer to home when she found out her son was gay. This news, Meredith said, allowed her to truly see the negative attitudes that society and the church have toward the LGBTQ community, a perspective she otherwise may have never been exposed to if it weren’t for her son.
“You must speak to your children every day and be there for them. Most of all love them. Ask them how their day went be involved with all they do. Don’t let them suffer in silence because they may feel different and may be getting bullied. Communication is key.”
Society’s culture of intolerance, Meredith said is to blame for the discrimination, violence and lack of acceptance. Acknowledging the humanity in everyone regardless of differences, Meredith believes, is key.
“To attack a person’s human sexuality is to attack a person’s human identity. Homosexuality is not an illness, mental disorder or emotional problem. Until we, as a society and faith community, are able to value diversity we will not be able to move forward toward achieving social transformation and world peace,” the former first lady said.
“This is about changing how we view Christianity and how we view each other.”
She added, “My story is a true testament of taking a situation that could break you and turning it into something that can help others. This is bigger than me.”
For more information about Lydia Meredith and to purchase “The Gay Preacher’s Wife: How My Gay Husband Deconstructed My Life and Reconstructed My Faith,” visit www.lydiammeredith.com.
About Lydia Meredith
In addition to being an activist and the best-selling author of the Gay Preacher’s Wife, Lydia Meredith is a community engagement expert and results-oriented professional, with over 37 years of leadership and management experience in corporate, education, and nonprofit environments. As Executive Director, she is responsible for human resources management and supervision, organizational planning, program development and administration, financial management, grant writing, resource development, fund-raising, board management, and community linkages. Other areas of specialization include teaching/training, workshop development and facilitation, project management and economic analysis. She is a certified, corporate cultural diversity awareness educator. Lydia is an Industrial Engineer by profession, holding a Bachelor of Science degree and a Master’s of Business Management from Vanderbilt University. She also holds a Master’s of Christian Education from the Morehouse School of Religion (Highest Honor) and a Master’s of Public Policy from the Andrew Young School of Policy Studies (AYSPS) at Georgia State University — with a concentration in Non-Profit Policy. At AYSPS, Lydia earned the Amanda G. Hyatt Fellowship for academic excellence and outstanding public/community service.