There’s a beautiful old building a few streets over from where my church meets to worship, and it catches my eye each time I drive past it. The charcoal exterior of the A-frame design stands out against the urban Birmingham backdrop. I’ve heard the building is just two shotgun style houses, put together, but the design reminds me of the little Methodist church in the town where I was born. Last Saturday night, I was invited into its sanctuary.
The stairs creaked as I walked in the front door and turned the decorative metal knob. A small crowd gathered just past the foyer, while music boomed from within. As we entered the main room, I found smiles all around, people hugging and talking. Some were drinking, most were dancing. To celebrate a friend’s birthday, I’d just entered a gay bar for the first time. I’d been invited to step into my friend’s world.
The interior walls were black, and the lights had been dimmed throughout, but there was a lightness in the air. I couldn’t get past the sense that this place was a real church. There were barstools instead of pews, and bartenders standing in for ushers. Nonetheless, I recognized the feeling permeating the club. It was a feeling of safety, of love, of community, of belonging. And isn’t that what the Church is all about?
I walked into that churchy old building, converted into a gay club, and I found God.