For those of you who do not know me, my name is David Hartley, and my partner Jerry Burske and I have been members here at Highland for about 9 years.
I will tell you a little about my faith journey. I grew up in Lawrenceburg and attended the Baptist church there. My parents had me in the cradle roll department, and then it was on to toddlers, beginners Sunday School, on into primary, then junior and senior classes. Oh what wonderful teachers I had back then! Sunday afternoons were spent with the youth group as I got older. I was in Royal Ambassadors (which was for the boys) and on Wednesday nights there was Sunbeams for the children.
For those of you who grew up in the Southern Baptist tradition, you probably experienced all of this. I sang in the youth choir and even played the organ on Sunday mornings when we had Baptist Men’s Days. The church experience in Lawrenceburg is nothing like the experience we have here at Highland. That church is still very traditional: all men deacons and trustees, no women serving in these capacities, let alone someone who might be gay or lesbian.
When I moved to Louisville in 1981, I moved my membership to Walnut Street. There I continued to receive what I felt was a loving and rich experience through worship and music, serving as a member of the adult choir. I also co-taught a children’s Sunday School class. At some point after the music minister retired, the church moved to a contemporary style of music consisting of praise music and praise singers, with no use of organ or hymnals. That was certainly not for me. I went to Central Presbyterian for awhile, but something still was not right for me. I knew folks who were members here at Highland, so I came and here I am still.
Words cannot express how I feel every time I walk out of this beautiful, sacred place on Sundays, from the spoken word to the beautiful music and the faces of those folks around me. All this means so much as I continue my walk with God and each of you.
Please allow me to say I am very humbled, yet honored to be asked to serve as a deacon for the first time. I wish my parents were here to experience this with me, although I know they will be watching proudly from above. Being a deacon for the first time is a little bit scary for me. I hope the folks with whom I serve will guide me along and teach me. I am so looking forward to learning what the role is and how I can best use my gifts to serve you, my fellow members, for the betterment of this congregation. With time, guidance and careful prayer, I hope you will find that I have served well as a deacon.