Rev. Dr. Cheri DiNovo
Cheri is the minister of Emmanuel / Howard-Park
United Church, in Toronto.
She became a minister in 1996, after previous
careers running her own business and working in the human-resources field.
Inclusiveness, and respect for individual
differences, are very important aspects of religion as she practices it.
In 2001 she performed the first same-sex marriage in North America, between
her parishioners Paula Barrero and Blanca Mejias. Issuing licenses for
such marriages was not yet being done, but Cheri used the traditional church-based
approach of "reading the banns" in advance of the ceremony. Her
doctoral thesis was entitled "Queer Theology, Queer Evangelism"
and she worked with the Interfaith Coalition in Support of Same-Sex Marriage,
swearing an affidavit in the Supreme Court as part of an intervention in
Listening and learning are also important
to her. "The Radical Reverend", her weekly radio program on the
University of Toronto station CIUT-FM, has a phone-in component which allows
listeners to make their own personal contributions regarding the topic
of that week's show. And with both the congregations she has served, at
Brucefield in southwestern Ontario and at her current semi-downtown church,
Cheri has paid careful attention to what her parishioners do or do not
find helpful. Working closely with them, and using a healthy amount of
imaginative thinking, she has been able to develop ministries that are
very welcome and very effective.
Cheri is a wife and mother as well as a
minister. Her husband Gil is currently (2004) finishing his doctorate in
the department of Social and Political Thought at York University. Her
son Damien is a student at the University of Toronto and her daughter Francesca
is a budding fashion designer.