As the first openly gay minister to be ordained at Grandview Church, Liz Fulmer has strived to prove that being gay does not preclude being loved by God.
The singer-songwriter will continue her efforts to spread that message with a new album, “The Bible Tells Me So.” The record celebrates the joys and challenges of life, finding hope during stressful times, and being true to one’s self, despite the judgment of others.
Fulmer will celebrate the record’s release with a performance at 7 p.m. Sunday at Tellus360. Chelsea Reed, a jazz and swing vocalist who lives in Philadelphia, will open the show at 6:30 p.m.
Fulmer, who was ordained in April 2022 at the Manheim Township church, serves as its associate pastor. The church has seen notable change in recent years; in 2021, it broke away from the United Methodist denomination and reformed as a new congregation. Grandview Church ended its United Methodist affiliation after that denomination declared that homosexuality directly conflicted with church beliefs. The break was already in the works, dating back to 2014, when Grandview became active in its efforts to change UMC policies that were discriminatory toward LGBTQ+ people.
For Fulmer, that opened the door to her feeling fully accepted as associate pastor at Grandview Church. Fulmer will donate proceeds generated from “The Bible Tells Me So” to help Grandview Church pay down the loan it took out in order to leave the UMC denomination. Some of the costs involved establishing ownership of the church building at 888 Pleasure Road, Lancaster, Fulmer says.
“We are so very grateful to Liz for her generosity,” says the Rev. Andrea Brown, lead pastor of Grandview Church. “We appreciate her talents to live life, dance and sing. I am looking forward to being there for her CD release party.”
Fulmer’s latest album, her third full-length, is something of a reckoning between the traditional Bible teachings and the deep belief that God loves everyone. Its title is based on the cherished child’s hymn, “Jesus Loves Me.” Fulmer even sings “Jesus Loves Me” as the 10th and last track of the album.
“I chose the title of ‘The Bible Tells Me So’ very much on purpose,” Fulmer says. “I have had Bible verses hurled at me over the years. This was my way to reclaim the Bible under a title that makes reference to one of those staple Christian songs in an open and inclusive way.”
The harmonies on Fulmer’s version create a gentle lullaby, delivered with assurance representative of Fulmer’s belief that everyone — no matter who they are — is deserving of God’s love.
“It’s one of my favorite tracks because it is sung and played by three queer people,” she says. “It feels like we're reclaiming those words for ourselves after people have said and taught otherwise.”
Fulmer's voice is dulcet, sweet and soothing, with hints of Sara Bareilles and a touch of Brandi Carlile. The two singer-songwriters just happen to be among the performers she admires.
“I love harmonies and songs that tell stories,” Fulmer says.
Her own songs on the album are storytelling songs. “All Good” has a jazzy, upbeat rhythm that declares everyone as “all good,” no matter their differences. In “Beatitudes,” Fulmer tells the story of Jesus from the Gospel of Matthew, reassuring followers of the blessings that would come to the poor in spirit, those who mourn, the meek, those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, the merciful, the pure in heart, the peacemakers, and they who have been persecuted for righteousness’ sake.
There is a hopefulness in “A New Day Coming” that feels like an anthem heralding the day when the sun arises to a world of peace and acceptance. That feeling of gratefulness comes with “Blessings Abound,” which harkens to the magic and wonder of a small child who discovers the wonder of a garden filled with flowers, butterflies and ladybugs.
With “Morning Has Broken,” Fulmer calls on another hymn that was first written in the 1930s and made famous by Cat Stevens in the 1970s. But she puts her own words to it, as a call for justice in a new day.
“One of the reasons I did this album is to show that it’s possible to be queer and Christian at the same time,” Fulmer says. “It’s my hope that these songs will do some good in the world.”