Written by Katie on the occasion of her election to serve as a deacon beginning in August, 2013
Growing up I did not attend any church on a consistent basis. I went to Vacation Bible School a few summers, visited several different youth groups with my friends though middle and high school, but never belonged to a church. I did not have a church family until I joined Highland eight years ago. Although going to church was not a constant, I was taught about the love of God, Jesus, and the Bible from my mother. Every Christmas Eve she read the Christmas story to me, she taught me how to pray, and always reminded me that God knows what is best, he is always listening, and to give thanks daily.
My first connection with God came when I was a little girl. My father left my mother and me when I was one year old. Growing up I was often sad and confused about why my dad left and when I felt this way, I would gather up all my baby dolls and stuffed animals, line them up in bed with me and get under the covers. We, me and Cheer Bear and all the gang, would talk to God. I remember one night having a very clear conversation with God about my feelings and God speaking to me saying “it’s OK……I’m your Father.” From that moment on when I needed to talk my father, instead of missing the one that left—I prayed.
After high school I was a walking generation x cliché. No direction, every time I thought I found myself I’d get lost again. I saw the very worst side of myself and knew something had to change. I started attending church with my grandparents and soon was baptized and joined that church; not long after I started helping teach the youth on Sunday mornings. I really thought things were going well, I was getting back on track and very happy and proud. Then one evening I got a call from the youth minister who wanted to see me in person to welcome me to the church. I wasn’t in the meeting very long before I realized the real cause for the meeting. He had found out I was gay and told me my help was no longer needed and I was not welcome at the church. Now, this could have devastated my self -esteem, tarnished my relationship with the church, and caused me to lose my faith in God. But it didn’t. I knew then exactly who I was… a child of God. I didn’t lose my faith in God…I lost my faith in that church. By the way, my grandmother left that church when I told her this story.
And then came Highland…..eight years later I am proud member of this church along with my partner Autumn and are two boys Samuel and Andrew. My boys will never experience a church community that doesn’t love and accept their family. This church is a safe haven for them and a place where they will learn to love all of God’s children.
Joe always closes with the same phrase…we end this worship and begin the worship that is our very lives…St Francis said “preach the gospel, if necessary, use words”. As a deacon, I hope to extend my role past working worship services and attending meetings. I hope to be a face that represents this church as that safe haven for members and non-members to worship, question, struggle, recover, forgive and praise. I hope to continue to support the Building Love mission so all people who walk through our doors know there is a place for them here in the presence of God, where they can come as they are, be who they are, and know they are loved and welcomed.