Melissa at Permission to Live has just written a beautiful post about her family’s first experience in an accepting church:
A man plays the piano softly, a candle is lit, a list of prayer requests are read out loud by a young woman who has grown up in this church. I wonder what it would feel like to grow up in a church where you are an equal, allowed to participate and contribute fully, even though you are female. A woman gets up behind the pulpit and begins to speak, it takes me a few minutes to realize that she is one of the pastors here. She gives a quick synopsis of the church’s mission, and concludes by welcoming everyone there, including “those who have not been welcome in another church”. I am surprised by the lump that comes into my throat when she says those words. We are welcome here. I find myself breathing easier, the tenseness in my thighs and back relaxing a bit.
Melissa’s story reminds me of the first time my partner and I went to our Unitarian Universalist church. I sat very still, holding my own hands steady on my lap, repeatedly reminding myself, I am among friends. I am among friends. I am among friends. Plenty of women there had hair shorter than mine. Many wore pants. Children went off to Sunday school after the first songs. As I got to know people there, I realized that everyone supported my educational goals, nobody batted an eye at the fact that my partner and I weren’t married yet, nobody scrutinized my wardrobe or tried to sell me on any philosophy. Now and then, I caught hints that many people in my church had left behind fundamentalist backgrounds. The first time I heard our female pastor speak, I was sold. People listened respectfully. Men nodded and smiled along with women.
To be in a place where people put into practice the ideals of equity and fairness that we talk about so much really is paradise.