There are days that seem long and hard...it can be very frustrating work at times. "Results" are often slow and take a lot of time and energy.
But this past Sunday, I experienced one of those moments that make the whole thing worth it. We have been in the middle of a series at First Church Birmingham entitled "Sexuality: Let's Talk About It." Mostly because churches all over the country have remained silent on any and all issues of sexuality. This Sunday was the 3rd in our series and we braved the topic, "LGBT: Has the Church Got it Wrong?" (Many people were simply amazed that a church even knew what LGBT meant much less use it in a sermon title)
In our Sanctuary service, the pastor finished the sermon with our motto, "First Church is an OPEN place for ALL to worship, grow, and serve." Next thing you know one person started clapping and before we knew it the whole Sanctuary was offering a standing ovation. As we started into our last hymn the sun began shining through all of our beautiful, 100+ year old stained glass windows. I was overwhelmed by the love of these people in that moment.
From our pulpit we said that we are sorry for all of the hurt. From our pulpit we spoke the truth of the love of God. From our pulpit we declared that we are an Open place for All people.
If you want to give a listen to one (or all) of the sermons, here is the link: http://www.firstchurchbhm.com/media.php?pageID=24
(Note: Matt's church, Woodlawn UMC, is much further along in the declaration of being an open and accepting congregation. We are thankful that they have paved the way for others to do the same. And how lucky are we that we get to serve in these two bold and loving congregations?)