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Palgrave Macmillan

Called and Queer

Lived religion and LGBTQ Methodist Clergy in South Africa

  • Book
  • Sep 2024


  • Offers the first book-length study of queer clergy in an African context
  • Provides an innovative example of queering an African church in both Methodist and black consciousness traditions
  • Broadens the conversation about sex in Church in ways that go beyond questions of same-sex marriage and ordination

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About this book

This book is the first in-depth study of the lived experiences of queer Christian clergy in an African context. Using a queer lived religion framing, it draws on ethnographic research to analyse how six LGBTQ clergy understand and practice their vocation in the Methodist Church of Southern Africa (MCSA). Seemingly marginalised in a denomination which maintains that marriage is only between one man and one woman, this book explores why LGBTQ clergy are motivated to live out their calling in the Church and how they make sense of their positions within it. In doing so, it looks beyond an analysis of a Church based on its official and doctrinal institutional positions on queer people and sexualities and, instead, uncovers the taken-for-granted ways that gender and sex are inscribed in ‘the way we do things around here’. This book is relevant to students and researchers in gender and sexuality studies, African religious studies, and sociology of religion.


  • sexuality
  • queer
  • Lived religion
  • Methodism
  • Methodist
  • clergy
  • South Africa
  • Africa
  • Ecclesia
  • gay marriage
  • Church of Purity
  • gender
  • Church of Mandela
  • Methodist Church of Southern Africa


"Embark on a thought-provoking exploration of identity, faith, and belonging of LGBTQ clergy within the Methodist Church of Southern Africa (MCSA) in 'Called and Queer'. With sensitivity, depth and through meticulous analysis, “Called and Queer” unveils the institutional cultures that both shape and challenge queer clergy experiences within the MCSA, shedding light on the ways in which power dynamics intersect with issues of race, gender, faith, culture and sexuality. “Called and Queer" offers a timely and illuminating exploration of faith and queerness, challenging readers to rethink conventional understandings of religion, gender, and sexual identity. A must-read for anyone seeking a deeper understanding of the complexities of LGBTQ identities within religious contexts and the ongoing struggle for acceptance and affirmation."

(Prof. Zethu Matebeni, PhD, South Africa Research Chair in Sexualities, Genders and Queer Studies) 


“Churches play an important role in forming, and deforming, social values. LGBTQ members and clergy in the Methodist Church of Southern Africa continue to use their deep faith to claim space and shape a more just and inclusive Church. I am so grateful for this remarkable book that chronicles such stories. It is an invaluable resource for the Church and society. I highly recommend it!” (Prof. Dion A. Forster, Public Theology, Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam, Methodist Minister)


"This is well-researched, sound, highly informative and timely book that brings to the fore the lived experiences of LGBTQ clearly. I warmly commend this book to, among others, specialist researchers, theologians, religious leaders, development practitioners and general readers." (Prof. Ezra Chitando, University of Zimbabwe)


“Called and Queer is one of the best arguments I’ve seen for the academic study of religion as a lived experience. Robertson develops an elegant argument in describing the every-day experiences of queer clergy in the Methodist Church in South Africa who must also navigate the hierarchical structures of their institution.  A delicate dance between ecclesiastical authority and queer activism, the portrait Robertson depicts is one that offers new insights for the field of Congregational Studies and Queer Studies.” (Dr. Sara Moslener, Central Michigan University)



Authors and Affiliations

  • School of Philosophy, Religion and History of Science, University of Leeds, Leeds, United Kingdom

    Megan Robertson

About the author

Megan Robertson is a scholar of queer and gender studies in religion. She is currently a UKRI (previously Marie Skłodowska-Curie) Postdoctoral Fellow at the University of Leeds, where she is based in the School of Philosophy, Religion and History of Science and affiliated with the Centre for Religion and Public Life. Additionally, she is a research fellow of the Desmond Tutu Centre for Religion and Social Justice at the University of the Western Cape. Robertson holds a PhD from the University of the Western Cape, South Africa (2020) and has published widely on gender, sexuality and Christianity in Southern Africa.

Bibliographic Information

  • Book Title: Called and Queer

  • Book Subtitle: Lived religion and LGBTQ Methodist Clergy in South Africa

  • Authors: Megan Robertson

  • Series Title: Palgrave Studies in Lived Religion and Societal Challenges

  • Publisher: Palgrave Macmillan Cham

  • eBook Packages: Literature, Cultural and Media Studies, Literature, Cultural and Media Studies (R0)

  • Copyright Information: The Editor(s) (if applicable) and The Author(s), under exclusive license to Springer Nature Switzerland AG 2024

  • Hardcover ISBN: 978-3-031-67713-7Due: 04 October 2024

  • Softcover ISBN: 978-3-031-67716-8Due: 04 October 2025

  • eBook ISBN: 978-3-031-67714-4Due: 04 October 2024

  • Series ISSN: 2946-4390

  • Series E-ISSN: 2946-4404

  • Edition Number: 1

  • Number of Illustrations: 1 b/w illustrations

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