Last month, our church hosted Fairness for ALL Families, a celebration and rally for the nondiscrimination ordinance in Billings. At the celebration I asked people what it meant for them to have this event at a church. Here are some of the comments:
· It means everything to me. I had evangelical Christian parents, so it means a lot that a church hosted this.
· A reconciling church brought me out of darkness.
· This is an amazingly beautiful place with grass for children, and we can come indoors to cool off.
· To know that faith leaders are behind this means a lot.
· I love the community garden.
· What a beautiful sanctuary.
Many people, young and old, thanked me. I didn’t do much except get newsprint to cover tables and point where the bathroom was. People were respectful of the church building. Sabrina Currie, who works at Tumbleweed, told me that about half of the homeless kids the agency worked with have been kicked out of their home for being LGBT. Joan Nye, at the suicide prevention training, said that LGBT youth are at risk for dying by suicide. So for our church to provide a space for LGBT people and their allies to come and paint faces, fly kits, hula hoop, make signs, and simply be together, was life-giving.
A week later, an unchurched commuter to Billings told me she was glad to see we had hosted the event. Another who came to Art in Sacred Space, but hasn’t come to worship yet, told me “I was glad to see my church reaching out and doing good.” I was surprised that she considered this her church, but she does. A young newcomer told me how great it is that this church isn’t fighting over LGBT Q issues. Another young newcomer was so happy about it she brought her mother (visiting from out of state) to come to our labyrinth. She said it was the best outdoor labyrinth she’d ever seen.
Our ministry isn’t just to people who come to worship, but who drive by the building, come to the garden, walk the labyrinth, and go by our sign.
Following Jesus and meeting the challenge of the gospel isn’t always easy. So it’s nice to hear comments along the way about the difference we are making.