Thirteen years after a predominantly Black church and a predominantly White church merged, congregants are reflecting on their hard-fought efforts to both diversify and unify.

Bishop Carlton Pearson and Rev. Marlin Lavanhar take turns officiating at All Souls Unitarian Church in Tulsa, Oklahoma.


Extraordinarily Different Churches find ‘Love Beyond Belief’

August 2021


“Bishop Carlton Pearson was the first person to offer help when a virus attacked my three-year-old daughter’s heart, killing her suddenly,” explains Rev. Marlin Lavanhar. “He and I knew each other only as ministerial peers in Tulsa, yet when he heard about my daughter’s death through the ministerial grapevine, he showed up on the worst night of our lives to support us. I was in Hell and he said, ‘I will sit in Hell with you.’ I welcomed him.”

Rev. Lavanhar, head minister at All Souls Unitarian Church in Tulsa, Oklahoma, recounts the heartbreaking night, 14 years ago, that brought him and Bishop Pearson, formerly of Tulsa’s Higher Dimensions Evangelical Center, together. Their bond and friendship soon led to a highly unusual merger: The almost all-Black former congregants of Bishop’s gospel-driven Christian mega-church joined forces with Lavanhar’s almost (more…)

Crucial Caregiving

Finding the Right Help, From the Right People

September 2021

Editor’s Note: This is the sixth installment of “The Transchick Chronicles,” an on-going series of essays written by newly-out transgender journalist Stephanie Haskins, as she chronicles her transition. Parts one and two can be found here. Parts three and four can be found here. And click here for part five.





As I write this, my facial feminization surgery is a few weeks past.

It was/is wonderfully affirming. Like my breast augmentation five months ago, my new face is quite wondrous. Not much has changed, but enough to convince my dysphoric soul that, yes, I am indeed a female, and all I have to do is look in the mirror to confirm it.

Yes, I love mirrors now. I really like the image staring back at me.

My hairline is lower. My forehead is smooth. SO fucking smooth. In fact, I was convinced it was actually covered in plastic for the first few days. But no—that’s my real skin pulled tighter than I could have ever imagined possible. My whole face feels like it was shrink wrapped. Tight. Firm. Smooooooth.

My jaw is smaller and my chin is, too.

And my nose. Oh. My. God. Finally looking like I’ve wanted it to, for my entire life. But it’s still swollen, and really itchy. And I’m really hoping it’ll deflate a bit. I want it to look like Jennifer Lawrence’s.

A chick can dream, right?

My face was stitched across my hairline, on my forehead and around both sides of my head, past my ears. I also have two three-inch-long incisions inside both sides of my mouth below my lower teeth as part of the procedure to reduce my jaw and chin size. I was bandaged like a live mummy.

I always wanted to be a mommy, but a mummy is (more…)