One summer, after moving to Denver, I went to the annual Pride Festival to explore what resources were available in my new home that empowered people like me. I saw banks, the power company, various clubs and associations. And then I stumbled upon a row of churches. This was shocking to me, because of my experience of growing up in my home church. But most surprising of all was the booth for First Baptist Church of Denver. I approached and let them know I was one of them in more ways than one. They invited me to attend and showed me you could see the steeple just up the hill. I attended that Sunday and felt right at home. This was a place where I could worship, and it was a church family that was very diverse, but where all were valued and truly loved.
The traits and skills I had became more evident as I got involved and found ways to serve. I was called to be the Moderator, and we were able to create a very diverse and effective executive council. A variety of age, gender, marital status, parents or childless, church denominational background, sexual orientation, and career background made for an incredibly dynamic and well-balanced group. This was very different than my experience in other churches!
Eventually my career brought me back to Indianapolis. In the first six months after moving back, I couldn’t find a church that felt like a good fit for me. I would Google for churches that welcomed gay people. Many churches say “all are welcome” on their website (including the church where I grew up!) but it wasn’t always clear what that meant. Eventually, my former pastor in Denver told me about FBC Indy, so I made a visit in May of 2019. It felt like FBC Denver, and I met with Pastor Evan and realized this is a community that had similar beliefs
I am grateful for this new church family and look forward to continued growth. But, if I wasn’t led here by my former pastor, I don’t know if I ever would have found FBC Indianapolis. I do believe there are those searching for a home like this but aren’t sure if we would welcome them because we don’t say it before they walk through the door. This is why it’s not enough to simply imply that all are welcome. Historically, some groups have not been welcomed by the larger Church, and it’s important to explicitly say that they are welcomed and affirmed at FBC Indianapolis.
This is not only true of people who are LGBTQ. Being gay has helped me better understand what it is like for so many others who have not been given a voice. Being born a white man in America, I had never experienced something like that before coming out. It’s a privilege that I didn’t really understand until I had been denied a voice for something that wasn’t a character trait I could change, but something so natural to me. All of a sudden it changed the way my abilities were viewed. This is just one of the blessings of being gay. It has helped me better understand and try to help change the way others are treated in the world.