By: Anjala Dick, Indianapolis, Indiana
My story is a long one, but I will try to make this as condensed as possible. It is not always pleasant or easy, but I am learning as I go that all the struggles make it worth it.
I grew up attending church, but not Community of Christ. Attending Community of Christ came later in my life, however, it is definitely part of my faith journey.
When I found Community of Christ, I was looking for a place that would accept me and my husband. My husband and I are not in a “typical” marriage as he is a transman. We were not accepted in most churches because of our relationship.
Because of my Latter Day Saints background, I looked into Community of Christ. I reached out to the contact person at that time, Ken, and he invited me and my spouse to church. I went to church first and I was welcomed with opened arms. I think it was a couple Sundays after first attending that my husband came with me.
Not once were we ever made to feel like we did not belong or that we were not welcomed. Honestly, we were so accepted and loved that, eventually, we were both baptized; my husband was allowed to be baptized as his chosen name. He has never really had anyone within a church accept him as who he is, including at the local to Indy GLBT church.
This is very important because about a week after my husband was baptized, we were both confirmed as members of Community of Christ. That day was one of the most intense, but full of love and acceptance, days I have ever experience in my life.
The service that day started off as a usual church service would– prayer, song, etc. Then my husband and I were asked to come forward for our confirmation as members of the church.
Confirmation is on of sacraments of Community of Christ. As stated on the Community of Christ website, “Following baptism, those who wish to express their discipleship as members of Community of Christ, do so through the sacrament of confirmation. Confirmation follows intentional preparation including exploration of the church’s mission, beliefs, and understanding of discipleship expressed through covenant with God and others in sacred community. The sacrament of confirmation recognizes the work of the Holy Spirit in the disciple’s life. The prayer offered witnesses to the Holy Spirit’s ministry, weaving people’s giftedness into beautiful patterns of community to enrich their discipleship and to strengthen the fabric of the church.”
My husband and I were going to go up separately— my LDS background made me hesitant to go up together— but the people performing the sacrament motioned for both of us to come up. They placed 2 chairs side-by-side so we could sit next to one another. We were even encouraged to hold hands. To say that my heart was racing at the speed of light is an understatement and the feeling of love and acceptance that surrounded us at that moment was more than I have ever experienced before.
The sacrament of confirmation was completed and this is when things became intense.
After both our confirmations were completed, my husband leaned over and gave me a kiss. It was not an inappropriate kiss. It was just a peck. It was very innocent. As soon as it happened, a woman, who did not attend Community of Christ, stood up and started to say something negative. As soon as she started talking, one of the priesthood holders on the pastoral team stood up and said very loudly, “NO!” The pastor then ran back to where the woman was sitting to tell her that her behavior was not appropriate at that moment.
Also, as soon as she stood up and started to speak, a hush – a spirit of peace – came over my husband and I and neither one of us could hear what she said. We knew it was not positive towards us because of how the congregation was reacting to the situation, but we also saw how our new church family rallied around us to protect us and love us.
After the service was over, my husband and I had a meeting with a couple people about a matter not relating to our confirmation. We knew that the woman was waiting for us, to talk to us, and to try to convince us how we were sinning and wrong. And, in this, our congregation still supported us. One of the members stayed behind to walk out with us to help us feel safe. As we walked out, the woman confronted us, but our brother-in-faith stayed with us until we had our say and we left.
From the website for Community of Christ, it states that:
• God views all people as having inestimable and equal worth.
• God wants all people to experience wholeness of body, mind, spirit, and relationships.
• We seek to uphold and restore the worth of all people individually and in community, challenging unjust systems that diminish human worth.
• We join with Jesus Christ in bringing good news to the poor, sick, captive, and oppressed.
They have loved my husband and I through it all, in our struggles, doubts, and now health issues. Even when we were not attending church, they were there for us, loving and praying for us. Never once did they judge us. Never once did they tell us we were unworthy of God’s love. On the contrary, they continually showed us how God loved us and they did it unconditionally and without judgment.
To our congregation, we are worthy of all the love that God has to offer us. We are worthy; in a world where we are often seen as less than, this is an invaluable thing to know. I am worthy of God’s love and so are you.
If you’d like to join us sometime, please check out our Facebook page. There you will find our hours, as well as upcoming events in which our congregation is involved. You can also check our previous blogs and other information on our congregations website here – http://cofchristindy.org/. I know I would love to see you there.