He nearly lost everything after he voiced his support for gay marriage, but the St. Paul pastor who made national headlines last year now has a new church a new mission to make sure doors are open to all.
Rev. Oliver White may have given up the keys to his old church last year, but he never stopped trying to share his message with the entire community. After months of what he describes as wandering the desert of improbability, he now finds himself back at the pulpit -- but he doesn't think of it as a comeback.
"I thought it was over, I really did," White admitted. "I said, 'Well God, I did what you told me. I don't have much to show for it."
Last July, the church White led for 22 years -- Grace United Community Church of Christ in St. Paul -- closed its doors after two thirds of the congregation left because White voiced his support for same-sex marriage.
For more than a year and without much success, White searched for a place for his remaining members to worship. Then, he called Clark Memorial United Church of Christ in South St. Paul --where the older, shrinking congregation was looking for ways to save its building.
"She said, 'We need you and you need us. Quid pro quo,'" White recalled. "I said, 'They got a building and I got a young congregation. Maybe this could work.'"
About three months ago, White and a dozen members of his mostly African American congregation began worshiping with the mostly-white church members at Clark Memorial.
"I love it!" Jackie Boller said. "There are many people who do, but because it's an older congregation, they are more set in their ways and some of them are struggling with the changes."
In addition to becoming co-pastor in a new sanctuary, White is also using crowdfunding to start a program called Churches for Safe Spaces, which will find ways to make houses of worship more welcoming for members of the LGBT community.
"It's wonderful to have this opportunity to do this again," White said.
According to white, finding another church to call home is the answer to his prayers -- and he plans to continue preaching despite the challenges he has faced.
"I can tell my foes, 'I am back again. I am talking again. The phoenix has risen. I will never stop,'" White said. "They cannot stop me."
So far, White's crowdfunding campaign has raised about $23,000 of its $120,000 goal. For more information, click here: http://reverendoliverwhite.wordpress.com/