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 running full speed ahead with a plant in his hands. He declared “for you papa and daddy” handing us the plant with a card that said “Happy Parent’s Day”. I was blown away. Ms. Kathleen had taken the time and effort to make sure our son, who was too young to remember this day, be included in the “Mother’s Day” project. In the process she made our family feel valued and welcomed. Sometimes it is the little things that make a big impact. At the next council meeting in her report she made a point of explaining that we have all different kinds of families in our church and we want every family to feel welcomed. We had been attending Central Woodward Christian Church for only a few months at that time.
Now the back story. I had pastored a church for over 11 years that had recently closed. Now we were in the market for a new church home. This wouldn’t be such an easy task as an openly gay couple with a toddler calling one daddy and one papa. We didn’t feel like the predominately gay churches in the Metro-Detroit area were a good fit. We tried a UCC that was a mile or so from our house, that would be nice and convenient, it was a warm and welcoming congregation but not quite right.
I believe God directed us to Central Woodward Christian Church in Troy, Michigan. I had grown up in an Independent Christian Church, another branch of the same movement. Central Woodward was the second church we checked out. I had a phone conversation with the pastor who assured us that we would be welcome. With the little one in tow we bravely walked through the doors of Central Woodward Christian Church (Disciples of Christ). I say bravely because many times in the church we say “everyone” is welcome but we really mean “everyone like me” is welcome. We were promptly greeted and welcomed with open arms but perhaps more important with open hearts! I meet with Pastor Bob again that week letting him know we liked the church but my partner wanted to check out a few more churches before making a decision. We decided that we were so warmly welcomed that we had already found a church home where God would have us be a part and truly belong. I now hear that in the first few weeks we were quite the buzz around the church “the guys with the little boy”. I would have never thought I would be back in any Christian Church (Independent or Disciples of Christ), or any mainline church but we have found a loving home and community of faith unlike any other I have experienced. Since then the Region has accepted/approved my prior ordination. The church council recently approved me as the Associate Minister & I am on the church council and my partner is in the choir and our son, Richard is a regular in children’s church. We should all remember that people will not know that they are welcome unless we tell them and show it by our actions as well as our words. Sometimes little things make a big difference. “Happy Parents’ Day”