Inspiration: Easter Writing Project 2013

How has being part of an open and affirming congregation expanded your understanding of welcome at God’s table?

Finding a Safe Space

In the process of deciding whether to leave my current profession, a college professor, and attend divinity school, I have been visiting First Christian Church in Rivermont (Lynchburg) Virginia for the past couple of months.  As a man who advocates equality for gays and lesbians, I am well aware of the struggle for the GLBTQ … Continue reading Finding a Safe Space

(read more...)

Glad Alliance Easter Writing Project

During the fall of 2010 we at Midway Hills Christian Church were nearing the end of a very protracted struggle to discern the future of our fifty year plus congregation. Already we had been an “Open & Affirming Congregation” for many years. Now it was time to act on our resolve to renovate the sanctuary … Continue reading Glad Alliance Easter Writing Project

(read more...)

An Open & Affirming Church

Our faith calls us to love the Lord with all our heart, soul, mind, and strength and to love our neighbor as ourselves. Jesus said when we do something for the “least of these,” we are doing it for him. As a life-long member of the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ), I was never aware … Continue reading An Open & Affirming Church

(read more...)

Reflections on Being Open & Affirming

The GLAD Alliance asks, “How has being part of an Open & Affirming congregation expanded your understanding of welcome at God’s table?” My reflections include the following observations: I have always believed that our relationship to God is defined by our spiritual formation and not by our sexual orientation.  To make sexual orientation a test … Continue reading Reflections on Being Open & Affirming

(read more...)

Opening The Door To The Other

Have you ever seen ‘Lars and the Real Girl?’ If not, stop reading this—no seriously, right now—and go watch it. I’ll wait… Ok, now that you are back… you have been transformed in some deeply spiritual way. Suffice it to say, I find this movie to be cinematic perfection. The people are real—painfully, imperfectly real—and … Continue reading Opening The Door To The Other

(read more...)

Brought Into The Embrace of God’s Love

One night in 2005 I was sitting on my porch trying to have a moment I had been having since I was a kid. The experience would be the closest thing I know of as to what is called “mystical”. As a boy, I would sneak out of my bedroom at night and climb on … Continue reading Brought Into The Embrace of God’s Love

(read more...)

And We Mean Everybody

The gospel is a system of facts, commands, and promises, and no deduction or inference drawn from them, however logical or true, forms any part of the gospel. Our opinions about the gospel are not part of the gospel and therefore cannot be held as a threat over those who deny them. I am willing … Continue reading And We Mean Everybody

(read more...)

How O&A Happened To Me And My Church

When I was growing up in the 50’s and 60’s, being gay meant being happy.  The only “homos” I was aware of were the very flamboyant, flaming variety.  Then during college the sorority next to mine was filled with the athletic “tom girl” types that were often the butt of our jokes.  Many years later … Continue reading How O&A Happened To Me And My Church

(read more...)

A Day In The Life

5:00 Alarm. Calendar check. Big day ahead. Gotta get Katy to the airport and Jackson to school in time to finish homework, then arrange lawn care and landscaping for the house nobody has bought from us in Lynchburg, and get myself to the Capitol in St. Paul. The Marriage Equality Rally is today. Must remember … Continue reading A Day In The Life

(read more...)

Mothering in an O&A World

When I looked into her eyes, cradling her perfect little body, feeling her peace and perfectness, I knew, unequivocally, there was nothing this little girl could ever say or do to make me love her any less.  It was at this moment, I got a glimpse of what I think God’s love is like for … Continue reading Mothering in an O&A World

(read more...)

Mother’s Day 2012

Mother’s day becomes parent’s day.  It was an ordinary Sunday and my partner of 17 years and our son, Richard, 2 years old went to church.  We had not even given much thought that it was Mother’s Day.  The service was good as always. Then as we walked into the fellowship hall there was Richard … Continue reading Mother’s Day 2012

(read more...)

Out of the Flames of Pentecost

Today is the day of Pentecost, the birthday of the church, the day when tongues ‘as of fire’ fell upon the disciples and the church received the gift of the Holy Spirit. With the fiery inspiration of the Holy Spirit, the disciples began to tell their story, and people of all nations heard them, all … Continue reading Out of the Flames of Pentecost

(read more...)

At the Corner of Kirkwood and Washington

At the corner of Kirkwood and Washington in Bloomington Indiana there is a church building.  It is my church.  In the scheme of things it has not been my church all that long, only about four years.  FCC (aren’t most Disciples Churches called that?) is a gothic structure not unlike many old churches that are … Continue reading At the Corner of Kirkwood and Washington

(read more...)

Accepting and Loving our Neighbors

My husband and I are foster parents – we made this decision having no children in our home to become parents by opening our home to children whose parents could not care for them temporarily.  We got our license to foster/adopt shortly before joining as members of Kent United Church of Christ.  We have fostered … Continue reading Accepting and Loving our Neighbors

(read more...)

Saying YES

Being a part of an Open & Affirming congregation means: Acceptance Embrace Grace Affirmation For me. Oh wait—did I mention I’m an ally? I’m also married to a Disciples of Christ minister, and we have a wonderful teenage son, Jackson (if you were at General Assembly in Nashville, you may remember him—he spoke up rather … Continue reading Saying YES

(read more...)

Rainbow Warrior

Susan and I joined Lafayette Christian Church in 1988 when our daughters, Saren and Claire, were 9 and 4 respectively. The warmth and openness shown to us sold us immediately and we joyously joined that year. Stan Smith and Faye Orton (now Snyder) were everything one could hope for in a pastoral staff. Everything seemed … Continue reading Rainbow Warrior

(read more...)

Going To Hell For Being…

My father died thinking I was going to Hell. Not the Gehenna near Jerusalem where trash was burned, but the Sheol, that place in the underworld kept for the eternal dwelling of the dead. My sin? I’m gay. And in my father’s eyes, that propensity, what he believed was a result of my choosing, was … Continue reading Going To Hell For Being…

(read more...)

The Solace of A Settled Question

What I like best about being part of an Open & Affirming congregation is that it’s a place where the argument is over.  We talked the matter through.  We shared experiences.  We studied scripture.  We came to consensus and those few folks who could not join that consensus went on their way.  The bell was … Continue reading The Solace of A Settled Question

(read more...)

God’s Yes

Before I tell you about the transformation of serving an Open & Affirming congregation, I must tell you about the hostility I encountered in my own life. I am now a pastor in the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ), ordained three years ago following almost three years serving a congregation within the same tradition. Although … Continue reading God’s Yes

(read more...)

Living In The Light

Although it is the season of Easter–the time when we celebrate the mystery of how Jesus died but is yet with us– in the context of serving an Open & Affirming church, I am still thinking of the Light which has come into the world. Even though it’s Easter, the Light makes me think of … Continue reading Living In The Light

(read more...)

Thank You For Your Love

Dear MBCC, I want to write a letter to express my love, my admiration and my respect for you. Before opening your doors and entering your sanctuary in 2009, I did not think much of church, or of the people who attended church. A little background. I grew up in a fairly atheist household, with … Continue reading Thank You For Your Love

(read more...)

Pushing The Definition

How one deals with their sexual orientation is a very personal and private matter.  GLAD provides vital assistance to the coming out process for many.  Coming out is a multi-phase process.  Many considerations must be made before making a determination that one is gay.  Accepting your own sexual orientation as a gay person is the … Continue reading Pushing The Definition

(read more...)

The Time Is Now

While I’ve never seen it in a congregational mission statement, it certainly would be appropriate: The mission of the church is to open its doors as wide as God’s heart. Not more. Not less. Christian community is only “Christian” when it reflects the magnanimous nature of God’s welcome, and at the beginning of the 21st … Continue reading The Time Is Now

(read more...)

Welcome At The Table, O&A Style

I have always felt welcomed at “THE” table.  I grew up convinced that Jesus had that table and I had a spot right up next to him at it.  No matter if I was dressed up, tired from doing homework, mind-wondering from ignoring the sermon, as a teen I KNEW I had a place. It … Continue reading Welcome At The Table, O&A Style

(read more...)

What A Shame

I want to write about working with ministry candidates and graduates in a School that is open to LGBT students who then go to serve in a church that is not. I am the Dean at the Disciples Divinity House at Vanderbilt Divinity School. Vanderbilt Divinity School has taken positions of support for LGBT students … Continue reading What A Shame

(read more...)

Even The Least

I’m gay. Actually I’m queer, but I am ninety-something percent attracted to men and I fit other people’s definition of “male”, so “gay” tends to translate faster. It’s inaccurate, but it paints a faster picture and requires fewer words.  I am 35 and I have been “Out” on one level and then another (and another, … Continue reading Even The Least

(read more...)

Journeys Into Becoming

I was the youngest of four children. My sister struggled to fit in. She struggled so badly she ran-away and got involved in some very bad things along the way. She was a ‘problem-child’ and when I was a child, I resented and distanced myself from her. Watching my parents go through the pain of … Continue reading Journeys Into Becoming

(read more...)

A Different Voice of Christ

I am a gay man who will turn 50 this year.  From my earliest recollection I was attracted to those of my gender.  As I child I really did not think anything about it.  It was only as a teenager becoming aware of his sexual identity that I began to understand that many in society … Continue reading A Different Voice of Christ

(read more...)

Lost But Now I’m Found

Just for a little “Lee Religion History,” I was born and baptized a Catholic.  My Mom got a divorce and was excommunicated when she remarried.  Years later, my step-dad took us kids to a Presbyterian Church.  A friend invited me to a new start-up church and I went with her and was impressed.  It was … Continue reading Lost But Now I’m Found

(read more...)

BFF’s Forever

When I first joined Foothills Christian Church last Spring, I asked my Pastor, “what does Open & Affirming mean, exactly?” She told me it was language that LGBT people understood to mean “YOU are Welcome Here”. I wasn’t certain how I felt about that. I prayerfully began to ask The Lord to show me what … Continue reading BFF’s Forever

(read more...)

A One Night Stand That Went TERRIBLY Right

Joining Franklin Circle has been one of the best things to happen in my life in a long time – and it was never supposed to happen.  When Jake and I met and started dating, I told him – in no uncertain terms- just how unhealthy his church was for him.  I had nothing against … Continue reading A One Night Stand That Went TERRIBLY Right

(read more...)

All The Difference In The World

When members of my family speak of their death, they refer to going up on the hill to rest in the cemetery of Berea Christian Church, the congregation our family founded in 1867.  My roots in the Disciples run deep.  I grew up a Disciple, attended a college and seminary historically-related to the Disciples, and … Continue reading All The Difference In The World

(read more...)

Sailing With The Wind of Welcome

“You are welcome here… as long as you believe like we do, pray like we do, and (scroll unfurled) understand that you cannot allow certain people be leaders, you cannot accept the validity of other religions, you cannot accept variations in sexual orientation”—the list went on and on—“or your welcome will be invalidated!” How has … Continue reading Sailing With The Wind of Welcome

(read more...)

Setting A Table In The Wilderness

We at Chalice Christian Church were a wandering people.  But after years and years of getting use to one junior high’s gymnocafetorium only to be uprooted and moved to another, we finally bought land on the border of Chandler and Gilbert, Arizona.  You have heard the passage from Exodus, “I will take you as my … Continue reading Setting A Table In The Wilderness

(read more...)

The Table of Love

I am part of the first Open & Affirming Church in the Central Rocky Mountain Region of the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ).  Fireside Christian Church has made more difference in my life than I can describe. I was finishing work on my M.Div at the Iliff School of Theology and working as Youth Minister … Continue reading The Table of Love

(read more...)

My Identity is Christ

I was born and raised in the African Methodist Episcopal  (A.M.E) Church.  Like many of us who identify as LGBT, I went to church every Sunday and frequently heard about how homosexuality was a sin.  As an African American I grew up believing that homosexuality wasn’t even something that existed in our community.  I struggled … Continue reading My Identity is Christ

(read more...)

A POC, Non-O&A O&A Church…Wrestling With Multiple Integrities

I had been at First Christian Church of Oakland for a couple of weeks when I went out to lunch with one of the elders of my small, predominantly African American congregation. I asked her about her vision for the church, and she painted the picture of our massive facility being used to feed and … Continue reading A POC, Non-O&A O&A Church…Wrestling With Multiple Integrities

(read more...)

What’s It Been Like Since We Went O&A?

I pastor a church that voted five years ago to publicly identify itself as “Open & Affirming.” While, in the end, the church voted unanimously to welcome and celebrate the lives and ministries of Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, Intersex, and Queer (LGBTIQ) people, leading up to it were some important questions: Will we be running … Continue reading What’s It Been Like Since We Went O&A?

(read more...)

Everybody At The Table

No one can do honest discernment unless those who are most affected by the outcome are present at the table. As we began developing the denominational discernment processes in 1994, this was perhaps the key learning for me. Whether the subject is human sexuality, race, or any other arena of human life, everyone impacted must … Continue reading Everybody At The Table

(read more...)

Affirming of All!

I grew up as a gay man trapped in the Southern Baptist body.  I’m Steven, and I love Christ Jesus!  My love for the faith community, from early on, was my world.  I always felt I had to balance the trepidation, one being that someone would find out that I was gay, and the unthinkable … Continue reading Affirming of All!

(read more...)

Widening The Circle For ALL God’s Children

As both a pastor and a participant in at least two Open & Affirming Congregations in my life (so far), I have reflected quite a bit on the question of what difference being in an O&A Congregation has made in my life and ministry.  Besides the obvious – that it makes having employment far more … Continue reading Widening The Circle For ALL God’s Children

(read more...)

Reflections on 18 Years of Belonging to Open & Affirming Congregations

My first experience of an O&A church occurred in 1995. A friend suggested that I might enjoy Pilgrim Congregational Church in Seattle. It is in a gritty neighborhood and the small congregation was alive with many other young adults. It was the first time I enjoyed going to church in my life. The services were … Continue reading Reflections on 18 Years of Belonging to Open & Affirming Congregations

(read more...)

The Bigger the God, the More Open The Church

I grew up in a big, shiny megachurch where the services were produced for TV and everyone was smiling all the time. I followed the path of the worship revolution to rock bands, drama skits and high production values but as I began to feel more of a pull to a preaching/teaching role, there was … Continue reading The Bigger the God, the More Open The Church

(read more...)

Woodland Christian Church: An Open & Affirming Congregation

I was asked if I believe in God and I said yes because I do not believe in chaos.  Chaos is defined, Webster’s Dictionary, as a state where chance is supreme…. a state of utter confusion.  I recognize God as the authority being in control and providing order and reason.  Some people fail to understand … Continue reading Woodland Christian Church: An Open & Affirming Congregation

(read more...)

Pilgrim’s Rest

There is welcome at the table, and there is rest for the weary and traveled soul. Not so long ago, that was a hopeful utterance and a declaration of how I thought it should be. Now, however, these two sentences have become true statements for me as I have experienced affirmation, welcome, and even celebration … Continue reading Pilgrim’s Rest

(read more...)

Experiencing Welcome At First Christian

When I came to First Christian Church, in Lynchburg, Virginia, I, myself, was a hurting, wounded soul. My wife, Debbie, and I sat on the very back row in worship, so that we wouldn’t draw attention to ourselves. Then came the passing of the peace. Suddenly, we were surrounded by complete strangers, welcoming us into … Continue reading Experiencing Welcome At First Christian

(read more...)

Reflections on Being Part of an Open & Affirming Faith Family

Being a member of an Open & Affirming congregation has enriched my life in many ways. Over twenty years ago, Midway Hills Christian Church went through an intentional discernment process that grew out of a well-established history of being welcoming and accepting. The process included candid discussion, sharing of personal stories, and studying how Scripture … Continue reading Reflections on Being Part of an Open & Affirming Faith Family

(read more...)

The New Normal

When I was in kindergarten, the junior high school was next door to my school. We would sometimes pass students from there when we were walking around outside in our single-file lines, and from time to time we would go over to the big school for a fall festival or to use their gym. I … Continue reading The New Normal

(read more...)

Welcoming As Understood From The Unwelcome

Fifty years ago, if a Baptist congregation in the South was suggesting becoming Open & Affirming, they’d have been referring to their willingness to accept African Americans as fellow children of God, and allowing the racial integration of their church. Twenty five years ago, Open & Affirming would have represented the Baptist church’s welcoming of … Continue reading Welcoming As Understood From The Unwelcome

(read more...)

Living an Open & Affirming Life

Although I had been a long time supporter of Open & Affirming churches, I had never belonged to one until I came to New York City for seminary. When I moved to the city and began attending Union Theological Seminary, I started my search for a spiritual home. I found Park Avenue Christian Church. Over … Continue reading Living an Open & Affirming Life

(read more...)

Journeying Toward Acceptance of All Friends

As a kid growing up in southeast Arkansas in the 1970’s I never gave much thought to homosexuality. As far as I knew I had never known a gay person. That was until 1982, maybe ’83, when a friend “came out”. I had known Drew for many years, almost all our lives to that point. … Continue reading Journeying Toward Acceptance of All Friends

(read more...)