Reflections from Pride Sunday by Troy Burden

Highland Baptist Church has been my home church for nearly 23 years now. This past Sunday, the Pride Service, brought me to tears. I love Highland and this just underscores the deep love I have for our church and the love that the church shows to its LGBTQ community. I am not a person who likes to be out in front, but more a work behind the scenes (on a lot of committees apparently) kind of guy. When I joined Highland, it was one of the few congregations that accepted LGBTQ folks. It was a quiet acceptance. It was inclusionary. It was transforming for me. Having been asked to leave the Baptist church of my university years for being gay, Highland truly became a place where I was healed. The Thinking, Feeling, Healing motto ran deep and true and invited me to be part of church again.

In my years at Highland, I have been thrilled to find so many allies for the LGBTQ community. The ministry staff have been so vocal, supportive, and loving to the LGBTQ community. My Sunday School class (SALT) has seen me through many years of relationship, parenting, loss, and joy. Having that support and acceptance being named in a dedicated service means so much. There are so many LGBTQ folks who now call Highland Baptist home. Just like all groups, the LGBTQ community cannot all be painted with the same rainbow colored brush. All of us have our own stories, gifts, talents, strengths, and  weaknesses. Having this celebrated in worship was an amazingly affirming experience.

The intentional work of True Colors has gifted Highland Baptist with a clear outreach of our congregation to the LGBTQ community. This outreach and the leadership of True Colors is evident in the number of LGBTQ folks that visit, participate, and have joined the congregation. The behind the scenes relational work of many of us for many years has provided that solid foundation that paved the way for this more overt ministry. But if not for our allies, none of this would be possible. It is because of the love, acceptance, support, and patience of our heterosexual allies that Highland Baptist is the congregation that we want to belong to. Sure, it’s not perfect. Sure, we have more work to do. But thanks be to God that we are all willing to journey through this life as Church together.