Pastor Twanna Gause stepped out of a limousine amid the whir of cameras outside the New Vision Full Gospel Baptist Church in East Orange, N.J.

Dressed in an off-white wedding gown and veil, she carried a bouquet of white roses and lilies, hugged several guests, then parted a sea of well-wishers on the way to her best friend, Pastor Vanessa Brown, who stood waiting at the altar in a cream-colored long coat called a sherwani and gold Punjabi jutti shoes.

The church doors opened, allowing the faint strains of “You Are So Beautiful” to float on the hot August air. Pastor Gause stepped inside, where she was greeted by Bishops Levi Richards and Eugene Gathers, both of the Fellowship of Affirming Ministries.

“She’s our spiritual daughter,” Bishop Richards said.

Both men walked Ms. Gause down the aisle, a role she had initially hoped would be accepted by her father, the Rev. Sam Gause Sr., a Pentecostal minister who lives in Atlanta.

But Mr. Gause, citing “differences in theological beliefs,” refused his daughter’s invitation.

“My father would not come here because he does not believe in same-sex marriage,” Ms. Gause said. “He told me the devil tricked me into this, and that if we had been married in biblical times, we would have been stoned to death.”

Mr. Gause, who helped raise four other daughters and a son held steadfast in his decision.

“I believe that God wanted us to procreate through a natural process, and by no means am I happy about this because it is unnatural,” he said. “I look at homosexuality as a mental disorder. If I start to tell you that I am an elephant, and start to behave as an elephant, that’s my choice, I choose to become an elephant. But you would probably choose to call a mental institution.”

Mr. Gause, long affiliated with the Center of Hope Church of God in Christ in Riverdale, Ga., said he had no immediate plans to contact his daughter.

“I will talk to her at some point, I suppose, if she calls me, but I will not initiate the call,” he said. “I do have some words for her that she needs to hear. I’m not going to condemn her or judge her because I don’t have that authority, but judgment has already been established by God.”

Ms. Brown, 46, and Ms. Gause, 45, both pastors of Rivers of Living Water United Church of Christ, which has locations in Newark and New York, heard much softer words on their wedding day while holding hands before the Rev. Dr. Yvette Flunder, the presiding bishop of the Fellowship of Affirming Ministries, who read from the First Epistle to the Corinthians.

Some 200-plus guests were present to witness the marriage from a relationship that has reportedly existed for nearly three decades.

“Twanna and I go way, way back,” Ms. Brown said.

According Ms. Gause, she was 16years when she met Ms. Brown, who was then 18years. “I immediately felt this kind of strange, warm feeling wash over me, and though I had not yet spoken a word to her, I could see myself loving this woman forever. My head was just spinning.”

Both reportedly grew up in religious families — “We didn’t hang on street corners, go to clubs or do drugs, none of that,” Ms. Gause said. But they spent time together at events sponsored by the Hiya Fellowship of the Saviour Church in Jersey City and at LaGree Baptist Church in Harlem, which were linked through a minister who served both congregations

Ms. Gause who got engaged to a man in Paterson in 1994, broke it off in less than a year and returned to Atlanta, where she toured with a gospel choir and worked as a cosmetologist.

“That relationship just didn’t seem right,” Ms. Gause said. “Plus I still had Vanessa on my mind.”

But Ms. Brown, who was by then working as a producer and talent coordinator for “Amateur Night” at the Apollo Theater in Harlem, had married a man in 2004.

By May 2005, five months after it began, Ms. Brown’s first marriage was over. Later that year, Ms. Brown invited Ms. Gause to give a guest sermon at Oasis of Love, a church in Harlem where she served as an associate pastor.

“We went to dinner and started catching up and talking about our lives,” Ms. Brown said. “Twanna seemed so much more mature than I remembered her, and she was very sound in her preaching.”

“I wasn’t quite ready to tell him,” she said.

Two years later, Ms. Gause was ready. She and Ms. Brown, in Atlanta to attend a religious conference, arranged a family meeting at the home of Ms. Gause’s mother, who also lives in Atlanta, to tell them that they were together.

“My father didn’t take it too well,” Ms. Gause said.

Indeed, they were still in Atlanta two days later, when Mr. Gause, carrying a large King James Version of the Bible, confronted them in the lobby of the hotel where the conference was being held.

“He slammed the Bible down on a table and said to us, ‘Did you all read this book?’” Ms. Gause said. “He was furious.”

During his recent phone conversation, Mr. Gause said he had actually stormed the hotel “to confront their pastor over theological beliefs, but he never showed.”

Mr. Gause also made it clear that the passing of time has not healed any wounds.

“We all have a conscience,” he said. “It is through that conscience that we hear from our creator as to what is right and what is wrong, and if God did not want us to procreate, then why didn’t he just create billions of people with no gender at all? He must have had a reason for doing what he did.”

Mr. Gause, who owned a company in Atlanta that made signs, said: “It was a mistake that her mother even went to the wedding. Had she rejected outright that kind of behavior, and become the lovable person that my daughter was in search of, perhaps Twanna would have had a different idea about that kind of thing, and not gone elsewhere to seek love.”

When asked about Mr. Gause’s absence at the wedding reception, an elegant affair at il Tulipano in Cedar Grove, N.J., Bishop Richards said simply: “God has a way of honoring us when others won’t.”

Ms. Dodson, who spent most of the evening chatting with Ms. Brown’s mother, Mary Ellen Brown, did not mince words when talking about her ex-husband’s refusal to attend.

“He has no right to judge them,” she said. “I tried to get him to come here tonight but it was a losing battle. He asked me why I would even bother showing up, and I said to him, ‘All you need to remember is that Twanna is my daughter, and I love her, and I have her back no matter what she does, and that’s why I’ll be there.’”

Ms. Brown, who graduated from New York Theological Seminary in May, and Ms. Gause, who graduated from Essex County Community College with an associate’s degree in social science and is now studying for a bachelor’s in social work at Rutgers, are moving forward with their lives, “with or without my father’s blessings,” Ms. Gause said.

“Don’t get me wrong, I still love him,” she said. “I still call him on birthdays and holidays and special occasions, though he never picks up the phone.”

Credit: The New York Times

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