With the Thanksgiving weekend winding down, I decided to go to church this morning. While I have been attending the First Lutheran Church, a parish within the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America, for over five (5) years, today I went to St. Andrews Episcopal Church in the West Ghent area. While I like First Lutheran in many ways, there are those within the congregation who continue to resist a more inclusive approach to those in the LGBT community. This element rejected my recent efforts to have First Lutheran join HRBOR as a way to reach out to the many members of the LGBT community who are seeking a church home. They felt that joining HRBOR would be an endorsement of the "gay life style."
In my view, these people are the self-satisfied Pharisee types who for some (in my view very sick) reason have in inherent need to feel superior over others who are different. Only by marginalizing and condemning others do they seem to find self satisfaction and security. Sadly, the senior pastor - who has been supportive of me individually - is unwilling to take on this element within the parish at this time and "do the right thing" by the gay community. Needless to say, I expressed my dissatisfaction in very direct terms and have not attended services at FLC since then.
In my view, one key element of surviving the coming out process if one has been raised in a religious background is finding a welcoming church where one does not need to apologize for being who God made you to be. Therefore, I decided to heed my own advice and do some "church shopping." I knew that St. Andrews was among the gay friendly Episcopal parishes locally. Moreover, unlike another local Episcopal parish which is overly formal and stuffy, I knew St. Andrews was supposed to be a more "regular people" type of parish. I also felt that in light of the grief the Episcopal Church is receiving from the homophobes in the Anglican Communion, I wanted to support a church that is standing up for LGBT individuals.
So, off I went this morning and found that the parish was welcoming and the service (and the church itself) was beautiful. I went on to discover that in addition to having a gay member on the Vestry, St. Andrews holds a monthly cook-in and provides approximately 1200 meals to clients served by ACCESS (AIDS Care Center for Education and Support Services), a local non-profit organization. I also discovered that I know some of the members of the parish and a woman on the Vestry. I definitely, plan on going back.