In my church, we baptize children and adults in the presence of the entire congregation. The congregation doesn’t just watch, they get a chance to stand and make a promise to the person being baptized saying, "We promise our love, support, and care." When I came out as an openly gay man, they proved to me that they keep their promises. For me, that's important.

Many of my friends were not so lucky to receive such unconditional love from their church communities – or their families for that matter. For a lot of folks who identify as gay or lesbian or bisexual or transgender, church and sexuality do not always go hand in hand. Their own Bible baggage has turned them away from their own relationship with God.

I came out in a time when identity, community and politics intersected. Sometimes I found myself shouting on the streets at the same civic leader who I would calmly sit across from in a meeting the next day. Call me schizophrenic, or just call me devoted. I learned in my church that through covenant we create dialogue and change. We do this by speaking out for ourselves and speaking up for others. In the UCC, you will find many people who believe that to engage in God’s mission is to be on the cutting edge for justice in the world. There are others who do not. We may not always agree, but we are a people willing to listen and learn.

“God has shown you what is good. What does God require of you but to do justice, and to love kindness, and to walk humbly with your God.” — Micah 6:8.

The world is not perfect — neither am I — but I've found that if social injustice is what challenges me, it is my church that inspires me to do something about it. You see, I now realize that covenant involves a special relationship between God, the people, and the way they relate to each other. It is true that the way I love may not be the way you love, but my relationship to God is probably a lot like yours.

“God is love, and those who abide in love abide in God, and God abides in them.” — I John 4:16.

My love of God helps me love myself and propels me into the work of loving others. Today, I’m a trustee in my church and I get to express love in so many different ways. Love sometimes shows itself in the creation of a just budget, at other times through a protest, or in other actions in the life of a church, but it is love all the more and nonetheless.

Now, whenever a baby or adult is baptized into our community and we stand and say, “We promise out love, support, and care,” I imagine the day my church said those words to me when I was baptized – even though I was too young to understand them. I remember the ways my church kept its promise and how it stretched some of them. I close my eyes and make the same promise to the coming generations, knowing how important it will be for some of them for me to keep that promise.

One of the ways I keep this promise is by remembering, but most of all by working for justice.

Section Menu