Good morning! My name is Cheryl Davis. I came to faith as a teenager in Dayton, Ohio, after I was invited by a friend to attend a Valentine banquet where the pastor spoke about God’s love. When my parents later divorced during those awkward years of adolescence, my faith in Christ brought much comfort and hope. That growing understanding of the reality of God’s love captivates me to this day.
My college years at Campbellsville were transformative as I came to understand different perspectives and viewpoints and what it meant to follow Christ. Robert and I met there and he proposed while we were on a BSU choir tour in New Orleans on St. Patrick’s Day. That should have given me some clues about the future, but I’m still glad I said yes! A few years later, we welcomed Brandon into our lives and began the joyous and challenging journey of being parents. I understood the immensity of God’s love more deeply from the first moment I looked into our son’s eyes.
After working part-time while Brandon was an infant, I returned to the Kentucky Baptist Convention (KBC) to work full-time in the music area (where I first met the talented Kathy Collier) and later had the great opportunity to work with folks like Chip Miller and Jim Hawkins. Eventually though, the shift toward fundamentalism began to be apparent at the KBC. As my view and understanding of God continued to enlarge and grow to become more inclusive, those in leadership positions at the KBC increasingly held views that seemed exclusive, with little room for those with a more nuanced and thoughtful practice of faith.
Around that time, Robert and I visited Highland and from our first Sunday here, we knew we had found our spiritual home. It felt like cool, refreshing water for our thirsty souls. We completely immersed ourselves, thriving on a deeper under-standing of faith and seeing the world anew. Looking back now, I somehow knew instinctively that being at Highland might be “dangerous” in terms of my employment at the KBC. But I honestly didn’t care, as this community became the place we reoriented ourselves weekly. The idea that loving our neighbors was encompassed in our love of God was truly transforming.
Since then, I’ve found that being a part of this community of faith is both comforting and disturbing. Being involved with Friday Church has been among the most profound experiences I have had. It has both softened my heart toward those on the margins and hardened my resolve to work toward justice. Over the past several years, seeing the suffering of migrants in Morocco continues to disturb and motivate me.
A couple of years ago, as media attention increased around Highland’s stance on same-sex marriage, I was told by leadership at the KBC that I would need to move my membership from Highland if I wanted to continue my employment there. This was completely unexpected, as I naively thought my long tenure of excellent service would somehow insulate me from their new leadership and its hard-line policies. As a woman now in my 50’s who had not been on job search in nearly 30 years, I made the painful decision that I would not jeopardize my family financially. My supervisor was sympathetic toward my situation and with Joe’s help, we worked out an arrangement that I would join Deer Park to satisfy this new employment requirement.
As you can imagine, this never sat well with me! Although the people at Deer Park were kind and encouraging, and though I could attend Highland quietly, not being able to worship and serve here freely, openly and fully, weighed on my spirit. Disheartened after many months, I realized that full-time positions with an appropriate salary in a place I could serve joyfully were not plentiful. I began to wonder if I could find such a place.
Then last summer, through Kathey Golightly Sanders, I learned about a position available with a non-profit agency called Tek4Kids that helps kids in Haiti through education and technology. Before long, I was interviewing for the job and with a familiar lump in my throat that comes in such moments, I called Robert on the way home, stuck in bridge traffic, but somehow sure I would be offered the job despite my rusty interview skills. Tek4Kids allows me the joy and often difficult challenge of working toward justice for some of “the least of these” in our world today.
With deep joy and gratitude for this beloved community of faith, I look forward to this opportunity to serve you as a deacon once again… made all the sweeter by knowing I can freely do so!