A brave Methodist pastor has revealed she is in a lesbian relationship – after 25 years hiding her true self.

Rev. Cynthia Meyer, the former Assistant Dean of Students for the Candler School of Theology at Emory University, came out in a sermon to the Edgerton United Methodist Church in Edgerton, Kansas.

Speaking to her congregation, the pastor – whose church is just a few towns over from the notoriously homophobic Westboro Baptist Church – explained that she would no longer be hiding her true self.

She said: “The Lord has led me here, to share my deep truth with you. It’s time.

“I’ve been an Ordained United Methodist Pastor for 25 years… at last I am choosing to serve in that role with full authenticity, as my genuine self. As a woman who loves and shares my love with another woman.

“I remained single through 20 years of my ministry, then a few years ago a wonderful relationship began to develop.

“In the midst of much prayer, at long last Mary and I decided that the Holy Spirit had brought us together.

“Our relationship is a holy part of God’s calling. We decided to commit our lives in love and covenant with one another. It was time.

“Ideally, my telling you that I am in a committed relationship would simply mean that I could relate to you and to everyone else in openness and honesty, offering my most valuable gift – my full self.”

She added: “I could stop saying I’m going on vacation with a ‘friend. I could use the great sermon illustrations than come from ordinary day-to-day life as a couple.

“I could stop pretending to live alone. I could stop denying who I proudly, faithfully am, and who I proudly, faithfully love.”

However, the United Methodist Church does not currently allow openly gay clergy or same-sex marriage – meaning Rev. Meyer is taking a huge gamble with her future by speaking out.

She also backed the Reconciling Ministries Network’s (RMN) ‘It’s Time’ campaign – which aims to change the policy banning gay clergy when it is debated later this year.

She explained: “It’s well past time for the denomination to change, and it’s my time to speak out as a part of that change coming to fruition.

“It’s soul-crushing to speak to my congregation each week about God’s love for them as they are, while being unable to speak of my own God-given identity, my loving relationship, and much of my day-to-day life.

“I do this not only for myself, but for my partner, for my daughter, for all those who are excluded and for the good of the church.”

RMN Executive Director Matt Berryman said: “We are so proud of Cynthia, who has influenced so many of us who studied with her in the seminary.

WHer brave decision to live her truth will reverberate beyond her church and touch many Methodists who have long admired her gifts to the UMC.

“While the Supreme Court has made marriage equality the law of the land, it is still not an option for all people of faith, nor is it possible for LGBTQ persons to serve authentically and openly as ordained clergy.

“We hope Cynthia’s story inspires others to join us in bringing justice to our church.”

Rules surrounding LGBTQ clergy are set to be discussed by the UMC’s General Conference this May.