A Path Back to Church
At the time of his recent death, Chuck was an Elder in his Presbyterian Church. He was involved in the Organ Restoration Program, the Sunday School, the Worship and Arts Committee and the Justice Committee. Chuck delighted in giving tours of the church building to introduce strangers to its history and to the present mission of the congregation. He strolled through the church hallways almost every day, greeting everyone and chatting about projects or plans with the staff. Chuck was loved by everyone and served as an exemplary church officer.
One would never have known he was isolated from the institutional church for years because he didn’t know he could be welcome as a gay man.
Chuck grew up in a devout Christian family. His mother was the soprano soloist in their church and Chuck accompanied her to every service throughout his childhood. Music, particularly church music, became a life-long portal to God. But Chuck also knew he was gay by age five. And like many, he drifted from church when he left home for college.
Chuck immersed himself in the gay men’s world, where he felt fully welcomed by a community. In contrast, the church at that time presented a solid wall of judgment against LGBT people and Chuck assumed he was not welcome.
Chuck found his way back to church through music when he decided to check out the Wednesday evening Taize service at the local Presbyterian Church he passed every day walking to work. Chuck said he wept from beginning to end in this worship based on sung prayer. And this congregation turned out to be in the Covenant Network, affirming its welcome to GLBT people like Chuck who have felt so shunned by the church. He rarely missed a Wednesday night from that time on. And it led to his rekindled devotion to God in Christ lived through the mission and beloved community of that congregation until his death.
For many Christians, meeting someone like Chuck puts us in mind of Scripture passages like Galatians 5: 22, “the fruit of the Holy Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, generosity, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control.” Just as the Holy Spirit fell on Cornelius in Acts 10, the Holy Spirit has fallen on GLBT people like Chuck, bringing the Gospel promise to life in our time. Counting Chuck as friend was an immense blessing to me. I miss him. I trust coming to know him a bit here is a blessing for you.