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She came out as a lesbian in 1973 and joined MCC Washington (DC) in 1976. Darlene served MCCDC as Church Treasurer and Lay Delegate and later served MCC's former Mid-Atlantic District as assistant district coordinator.
She was ordained as Metropolitan Community Church clergy in 1988.
She has served as Associate Pastor of MCC in Philadelphia, PA, and as Pastor of MCC in Baltimore, MD and MCC of Northern Virginia. She also convenes a biannual Conferences for African-American Leaders in MCC.
Before entering the professional ministry, Rev. Elder Garner worked as the executive director of the Philadelphia Mayor's Commission on Sexual Minorities.
Darlene is a founding co-chair of the National Coalition of Black Lesbians and Gays and chaired the first International Conference for Gay and Lesbian People of Color.
She has served as the chaplain for an AIDS hospice and as President of the Board of Northern Virginia AIDS Ministry.
Darlene has also served as a member of the Philadelphia Commission on Human Relations (hearing complaints of discrimination based on sexual orientation, race, gender, and national origin) and the West Hollywood Business License Commission.
Garner has been a member of the Board of Elders since 1993 and now serves Region 6 which covers Antarctica, Argentina, Belize, Bolivia,Brazil, Chile, Colombia, Costa Rica, Ecuador, El Salvador, French Guiana, Guatemala, Guyana, Honduras, Mexico, Nicaragua, Panama, Paraguay, Peru, Suriname, Uruguay, Venezuela and the U.S. States of Arizona, California (Southern), Nevada, New Mexico, and Texas (Southern).
She is the mother of four children and has seven grandchildren.