I was born in 1939. I knew that I was different by the time I was six years old and I have been an openly out gay man for twenty-five years. I regularly attended Southern Baptist churches from the time I was a baby until age twenty-three. When I was ten I declared that I am a Christian and was baptized. From ages thirteen through eighteen, I occasionally visited a Disciples of Christ church and a United Methodist church.
As an adult I have been an active member and elected officer of several churches in different states – Baptist, Metropolitan Community Church, Presbyterian, interdenominational, and independent. In the early 1970’s I was a member of an Open & Affirming congregation in New York City that was affiliated with both the Baptists and Disciples of Christ.
Then, from January to September 2012, I began a search for the perfect church for me. I methodically visited in-depth, ten churches in several denominations. Some were Open & Affirming and others were not. I participated in each congregation for two to four weeks, attending worship services, Sunday schools, Bible studies, congregational meetings, meals, social events, and taking the senior pastors to lunch.
The first I visited end up being the last. In January 2012 I visited Midway Hills Christian Church for four weeks. I returned in September and have been active here ever since. During the past seven months, I have found that the pastors and members practice what they preach. They believe that God created all human beings in God’s own spiritual image; GLBT and straight alike. One is born with one’s sexual orientation. It is not something that one is taught or that one chooses. I am especially impressed that the younger parents at Midway Hills are rearing their children to be Open & Affirming and that all seniors that I have gotten to know are Open & Affirming as well.
From my experiences, I firmly believe this is the way all congregations should be in order to share God’s message with everyone and to welcome everyone.