'In the last row, on the aisle, sat Rachel'
It was the Thursday before Christmas. The secretary gave me that familiar pleading look as she put a caller on hold. "Someone wants to know about our church and homosexuality."
With trepidation I took the call, my mind spinning over a packed day, hoping this would be a quick conversation. The shaking voice of a young woman spoke. "I need to talk to someone about homosexuality." Instead of the challenge I had expected, I heard desperation. Quickly changing gears, I told her to come right away.
Rachel, as I will call her here, walked into my office visibly nervous. I tried to put her at ease and she opened up immediately about why she was there. Married, with three young children, she thought she might be a lesbian and was in great turmoil. She was "trying to be good," by faithfully attending an ex-gay ministry at her church and striving to continue a life that felt like a farce.
She had found us through an internet search for "gay churches." Rachel had never been told it was possible to be gay and Christian. She gazed with eyes wide as I talked about our congregation and some of our gay and lesbian members. We talked about scripture and her struggle to do the right thing by her children and her own soul. When she left, I asked permission to give her name and number to some women who would willingly offer support. She lit up with the thought of meeting lesbians who are Christian!
Meanwhile, the next Sunday, Cheryl and Kandis had their daughter, Jaida, dedicated. Our church, comprised of three denominations with differing polities, is not officially "open and affirming." We are a mix of folks from all over the spectrum socially and politically. We are not of one voice on many issues, but we do walk together as a community of faith, allowing each other the space to be different and yet together. We have walked an arduous journey with these mothers as they ached for a child, offering much prayer. Jaida is, without question, a child of this congregation, and the spirit of celebration as she was dedicated to God was palpable.
Kandis and Cheryl stood before us with Jaida in their arms. The line of supportive grandparents and friends stretched the sanctuary. If ever there was proof that all God's children are loved and welcomed in this place, it was then. My heart raced as I beheld the site. There could be no question of who we are and what we believe.
I carried the rosy-cheeked and very curious bundle up and down the aisle as Kandis, through her tears, sang a love song she'd written, giving thanks for this long-awaited gift. There was not a dry eye in the house and a powerful spirit in the air.
In the last row, on the aisle, sat a young woman. Crouched over, almost wanting to disappear, obviously amazed that she might belong there witnessing this joyful scene, was Rachel.
I knew, without a doubt in that moment, why I serve God's church. I knew why we need to give a loud, clear and courageous voice to who we are. Why we need to believe God continues to speak. Why we drop everything on a busy day when someone desperately needs to know they are loved by God and welcome — no matter who, no matter where, no matter what.
The Rev. Rebecca Kemper Poos is associate pastor of congregational life at Columbine United Church in Littleton, Colo.