Perhaps I’ve noted it before, but if you look over ——> there in the sidebar, you will note that one of the communities I heart is Solomon’s Porch. Sweetie and I started attending a little over a year ago. What is Solomon’s Porch? From the website “Solomon’s Porch is a community seeking to live the dreams and love of God in the way of Jesus.” Its a little wordier (more specific & intentional) way of saying its a church. Earlier this year we said to the Porch community “yep, you all belong to us, and we’d love to belong to you.”
Last night, Sweetie and I gave a soapbox sermon. Its not so much sermon-y, but more a talk like thing. We shared time and words with our community about something that has been on our hearts and minds. We had a really great time doing it, and then connecting the community afterwards. I posted that we were doing this on facebook, and some asked for what we said. So, here it is. If you would like the audio (thanks for recording it Babs)–leave me a comment with your email–or email me, and I can forward it on. Vwala! Here is the audio, for your listening pleasure. (its starts a bit late, but you’ll get the idea) If it doesn’t work, you can still email me and I’ll send it to you.
• I am Ratchet and this is Rachel.
• We’ve been coming to the porch for a bit over a year and we became covenant participants last spring.
• For you who are visiting, “covenant participant” is the Porch’s way of talking about membership.
• Before Rachel & I were here, we were attending a variety of Lutheran and Episcopal churches, where we found lots of things to like but we couldn’t find the community we craved.
• We’ve found a fantastic community here, and tonight, we want to share a story about our experience here with all of you.
Then I talked:
• A few weeks ago, Doug passed along an email from someone who had written to him if Solomon’s Porch is “gay and lesbian accepting.”
• Doug sent the email to us asking if we’d answer it because he thought it would be better to have an answer from people within the community rather than his answer.
• We agreed to answer the email and we’d like to read to you what we wrote.
Here is what we wrote in our email:
My name is Rachel, and my partner and I are a part of Solomon’s Porch community. Doug Pagitt asked if we would connect with you to answer your email about Solomon’s Porch.
You asked if the porch was gay and lesbian friendly and accepting. I hope its okay, but the best way for me to answer is sort of a round about way.
Ratchet (my partner) and I started coming to the porch back in the fall last year. Previously I have worked for Episcopal and Lutheran churches. My partner grew up a happy Catholic. Our faith and spirituality–and sharing it–is important for both of us–and I am sort of a church junkie in general.
We had been looking around for a community to belong to that would “fit” for both of us for quite a while. We have both been to many “gay friendly” (whatever that means), reconciling in Christ churches, affirming and welcoming places (read we like the gays churches). Even some churches that were primarily queer. All of them were fine–but not quite a fit for us.
We showed up at the porch because we had met some porch folks and they were just really nice. And “normal.” We immediately noticed that whether we were queer or not was not an issue–not interesting and not disturbing. We met some folks who quickly became friends, and we knew we had found a place to call home.
Solomon’s Porch is people-friendly. There are several out gay men and lesbians in the community. There are all sorts of people. My partner and I feel not just welcome, but like we belong–like the place would be less without us. And we would most certainly be less without the community.
I know this is not an explanation that says we are all rainbow stickers and gay pride. We are a community of believers who are on our way in the world to figure out what God is up to and how we can be a part of it. Aspects of our individual personhoods are treated as part of the package. At the porch it seems that anybody’s unique characteristics are just as interesting–and just as unremarkable–as anyone else’s. There might be people in the community who are not accepting, interested, or some who have fears or issues about homosexuality, but amazingly, the porch community seems like the most real expression we’ve ever had of real people struggling with real issues, celebrating real joys, and actively practicing Christianity in a real way–in spite of and along with whoever each of us are.
I firmly believe that God and the church universal is actually working out this conversation about homosexuality and the church. I can tell you that my partner and I have never felt so welcome in a place like we are at the porch. While there isn’t a LGBT group or “ministry” or anything (who knows, maybe we can start one?) I know beyond knowing that I am loved and cared for as a community member at the porch.
If you want to come sometime, and meet my partner and I–call or email. We’d be glad to meet you at Caribou Coffee (its right across the street from the church), and we could sit with you at church. Or just meet you before or after. Or you could come and just tell me what you thought? In any event–feel free to reach out.
Rachel & Ratchet
Then Sweetie said:
So, Rachel and I will both offer a brief reflection on what it meant for us to write this.
- For me, when I heard that we could give a soapbox sermon, I was immediately drawn to sharing our email with all of you as a GIFT.
- What Rachel & I wrote about feeling whole here and so deeply a part of this community is something I wanted to reflect back to all of you,
- because what we’re able to say to others about what it’s like for us at the porch comes directly from the love that’s here.
- I wanted you all to see yourselves though our eyes. I wanted all of you to see the gift you give to us and try to give it back to you.
- I hope you all feel as warm and filled by this reflection as I did when I helped write about the porch.
And then this is what I said:
We both feel really grateful to be a part of this community. For a very long time I have looked for a church that would just take me as I am. I mentioned it in the email–but I think its worth noting that I have been to a lot of places, worked with a lot of people and been a part of many church/community conversations. There are a lot churches who have stickers, flags and belief statements that explicitly affirm how much they love and fully welcome LGBT people. I am glad that they are a part of our God family. For some who have been told they are going to hell, or worse, these places are a refuge for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people. These churches are places that they can know when they can walk in, worship and participate, that they will not have to face one more fire and brimstone, love the sinner/hate the sin sermon. They won’t be barred from participating in communion. The signs and flags mean “we like you gays and you will be safe here.”
But for me, I feel safe here. When I say I want a church that will take me just as I am, I don’t want to belong to the “gay church” or the church for women, or church for cat owners, or churches that gather around the commonality of their members. I like being amongst a diversity of people who share a common purpose and dream for what God is doing, not necessarily focused on what I am doing. Personally speaking, I do not need a flag or sign, though some people may want that. What I have longed for all along is to break bread, to shake hands, to help out, and to serve and participate in what God is doing in the world–just like you. Thank you for your part in making this place feel like home to us.
I woke up this morning–I heard ringing in my ears and swirling in my heart these words from the prayer attributed to St. Francis of Assisi: “For it is in giving that we receive…” Yes, yes it is.