In My Father's Church

A film by Charissa King-O'Brien

2004 | 49 minutes | Color/BW | DVD | Order No. 05873


Charissa is a lesbian who wants a church wedding, but it doesn’t seem to help that her dad is the pastor of the town’s United Methodist Church. While he has been quietly supportive of his daughter’s lesbian relationship, Charissa’s father knows he would put his career at risk if he chose to officiate at her marriage ceremony. In 1999, the Methodist church took a firm stand by suspending a pastor for officiating a same sex union—and the clashes between clergy and gay couples have been making headlines ever since. Compelling and honest, IN MY FATHER'S CHURCH is a poignant exploration of the intersection of homosexuality and religion, from the perspective of someone who has much at stake.

Though disappointed by her father’s resistance to marry her, Charissa and her bride-to-be Kelly continue to make their wedding plans—finding support in surprising places, and eventually are married by Charissa’s uncle. This emotionally charged story of one woman’s attempt to reconcile her love, faith and family brings to life the deep conflicts that gay marriage has caused in many churches—and for many individuals trying to maintain their faith while preserving their own identities.


“A must-see … shows most painfully how one denomination's anti-gay rules divides families, creates a second class citizenry of gay and lesbian church members, and binds clergy to rules that exclude some from receiving the pastoral ministry of the church.

Karen Oliveto, Ph.D. Asst. Dean and Director of Contextual Ed., Pacific School of Religion

“…A humorous and emotional journey of a daughter's love, a father's church, and a family's celebration of a loving committed relationship between two women. A must see for anyone struggling with the difference between religious and civil marriage rights in America today.”

Valerie Fein-Zachary, MD The Freedom to Marry Coalition of MA

“Deeply moving. A timely ongoing dialogue that is deeply personal, radical and brave.”

Elizabeth York, PhD Humanities, Arts and Social Sciences, Utah State University

Highly Recommended. …ideal for college and university libraries to support gay & lesbian, gender, psychology, religious, and sociology studies programs.”

Educational Media Reviews Online


  • Austin Gay & Lesbian International Film Festival
  • Immaginaria International Women’s Film Festival
  • Long Island Gay & Lesbian Film Festival
  • Modesto Lesbian & Gay International Film Festival
  • San Francisco International Lesbian & Gay Film Festival, World Premiere
  • Spokane Gay & Lesbian Film Festival


Charissa King-O'Brien

Charissa, (pronounced Careesa), King-O’Brien has been making nonfiction films and videos since 1999 as an independent documentary filmmaker in Boston and then in Chicago where her mentors were Documentary Editor David Simpson, Animator/Filmmaker Chris Sullivan and Filmmaker Shellie Fleming. She received a M.F.A. in Film, Video and New Media from The School of the Art Institute of Chicago. Charissa’s first film, IN MY FATHER’S CHURCH (2004), is an autobiographical film which follows the story of Charissa wanting to get married to her partner Kelly in her minister father’s conservative church. It has shown at festivals and conferences internationally, screened on television in Israel, and is being distributed through Women Make Movies. Her second film, OVER THE MOON (2010), follows the journey of Charissa and her partner Kelly attempting to get pregnant. Drawing from her background in painting and photography, Charissa interweaves hand drawn animation and poetic imagery throughout the film. “Over the Moon” premiered at the Reeling International Film Festival in Chicago where it won the Documentary Feature Honorable Mention award. OVER THE MOON has been shown in festivals worldwide and has been part of a traveling LGBT film outreach program in Latin America. Her third film, THE PAPER MIRROR, (2012), documents two well-known artists, Riva Lehrer and Alison Bechdel collaborating on a portrait. THE PAPER MIRROR has toured around the country at various film festivals and is being distributed through Frameline. Charissa’s fourth film, HYDE PARK, CHICAGO is currently in production. HYDE PARK, CHICAGO captures an unique moment in the integrated neighborhood’s history when one of its residents runs for president. We learn about a troubled past with housing issues and race relations through interviews with past and current residents of HP. Charissa has won three Community Arts Assistance Program grants from the City of Chicago Department of Cultural Affairs and the Illinois Arts Council. (8/14)

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