You mean it when you say all are welcome. You mean it when you say you are open and affirming. You mean it when you say all of us are God’s children and we should be loved accordingly exactly as we are.
Good morning, I’m Trish Fay and I’ve been asked to share with you why I am a card-carrying member of First Congregational Church in San Jose.
I first came to this church in the fall of 2017 and at that time I was looking for two things. First I was in search of a spiritual home. At that time I had been sick for over a year and I was not getting well, I was just getting worse. I was fragile and scared and I just wanted a peaceful place where I could draw closer to God and maybe make some connections with kind and faithful people. Second, I needed a church that was open and affirming. I had had an awful experience at the last church that I had attended. It was a large non-denominational church where some family members and a few friends went and they had a great youth ministry for my two teenagers which was important to me. It was diverse and friendly and loving and they said all were welcome. And then it wasn’t.
It was 2008 and prop 8 came on the ballot to legalize same-sex marriage. Then the sermons changed: hate began to be preached hidden in humor and innuendo and scripture. After two or three of these Sundays I finally had enough and I just stood up in the middle of the pastor’s sermon and I left. I waited in my car for my kids to be released from their service and when they got into the car I told them what I was hearing, what I was experiencing, and that I was not coming back, and they were both so happy because they were hearing the same thing in the youth church and they didn’t want to go back either.
As many of you know my youngest son Jack is transgender and at that time he was a sophomore in high school. He wasn’t out then — I don’t think he was even sure of who he was at that time — and I had no idea that I had a queer kid and I had no idea that I had put my queer child in harm’s way. That experience with that church was damaging to me, it was damaging to my oldest son, Kevin, but it was traumatizing to Jack, and I didn’t know the extent of the trauma until just a few years ago when he opened up and shared his experience with me.
So when I came here people were kind and friendly and said all were welcome. I wanted to believe that it was a sanctuary for me as I dealt with my fear and my illness. It felt like a safe space but honestly it took me quite a while to really trust that this church — that all of you — mean it when you say all are welcome. You mean it when you say you are open and affirming. You mean it when you say all of us are God’s children and we should be loved accordingly exactly as we are.
So today marks four years almost to the day that I became a member of this church… thank you… and I was also baptized on that day. The ceremony was beautiful and at the end I turned and I faced the congregation… sorry… I saw so many people smiling at me and I saw a few friends just beaming and I saw people whose eyes were filled with tears. It touched me deeply and it still does, as you can see, and I knew then that I had found my spiritual home.
You are why I give to our church, because it’s you who make it a safe, loving, spiritual space for everyone. I am safe here, my transgender son is safe here, and my not-so-sure-he-believes-in-