During the discernment process one is often asked to write a spiritual autobiography, and my process is no different. As I wrote this, I also reflected upon the various churches, congregations, and parishes that I have been a part of since I was a child. I wanted to list these parishes, with websites and a brief sentence or two, separately from my spiritual autobiography, because Christian formation is always done in the midst of a community, and I wanted the recognize and honor the various communities that I have been involved with over the years.
Holy Ghost Lutheran Church — Niagara Falls, NY
My cradle congregation is part of the Lutheran Church-Missouri Synod and still home to my parents and siblings. I was baptized here on Trinity Sunday 1972 and confirmed here on Pentecost in 1986. I served as an acolyte and usher and due to my mother’s involvement in the church it seemed like we went to every church service, including Halloween (which Lutherans celebrate as Reformation Day). I also attended parochial school here from pre-K through 8th grade.
First Unitarian Universalist Society – Syracuse, NY
I wasn’t a frequent churchgoer throughout high school and college, but was searching for a spiritual home once I secured my first job in Syracuse, NY. I discovered the Unitarian-Universalist Association and made my way to this church near my home. I found FUUSS to be a welcoming and nurturing environment and met a lot of great people there in the brief time I was a member.
First Unitarian Church — Oakland, CA
I was being spiritually fed in Syracuse at a UUA church, so when I moved to California I looked for a congregation and found FUCO. I was quickly involved in the church: singing in the choir, serving as a youth mentor, volunteering for committees, and met many wonderful people. I especially remember the hours and hours of practice with the choir and our recording of hymns from the UUA hymnal which is still available for purchase here.
All Souls Episcopal Church — Berkeley, CA
After the events of 9/11, my faith was shaken to the core. I looked to return to the Christianity of my youth while seeking a denomination that supported and welcomed LGBT people and provided the opportunity for me to explore a future calling to the priesthood. I found this in the Episcopal Church, and especially at All Souls. It was here that I took an Episcopal confirmation class and learned a great deal about the Episcopal Church.
Grace Cathedral — San Francisco, CA
While at All Souls, I had the opportunity to be received or confirmed again in the Episcopal Church. I opted to be confirmed again, and was confirmed in June 2002 at Grace Cathedral by Bishop Otis Charles, the retired Bishop of Utah. A few weeks later, my partner at the time was baptized in the huge baptismal font at Grace and confirmed the same day. Grace has always held a special place in my heart.
All Saints Episcopal Church — San Francisco, CA
We moved from the East Bay to the City, and found a parish home at All Saints. This is a wonderful little gem of a neighborhood church, done up in Anglocatholic glory, with a strong sense of neighborhood mission and outreach. I served as a sacristan and my partner served as an acolyte and crucifer here. We were sad to part ways with this community when we left California for DC.
Washington National Cathedral — Washington, DC
We suffered from “Goldilocks syndrome” while looking for a church home in the DC area — we could never find one that was “just right”. Most often we ended up at National Cathedral, which has no cathedral congregation. The Cathedral is a “must visit” every time I’m back in DC.
First Evangelical Lutheran Church — Ellicott City, MD
Moving out to Howard County, MD, half-way between Washington and Baltimore, we found even fewer Episcopal Churches that we felt comfortable with. However, we did find a welcoming, nurturing Evangelical Lutheran Church in America congregation near our home that we became involved in. I sang in the choir and served on the altar guild and we both served as lay eucharistic ministers. We were sad to leave First Lutheran when our jobs took us to PA/OH.
Trinity Cathedral – Cleveland, OH
After my partner and I broke up, I drifted a bit aimlessly with respect to my spiritual life for almost two years. I wasn’t a member of any church, and did not start going back until I met my current partner, Michael, in 2008. He was attending a Methodist Church in Columbus, and when we moved together to Cleveland, we decided to “church shop”. We found Trinity Cathedral and became members of the cathedral congregation. Although we have moved to another parish, one that is smaller in size and more intimate in community, we often attend Choral Evensong, Solemn Masses, and concerts at Trinity. It remains our “home away from home”.
St. Peter’s Episcopal Church — Lakewood, OH
Our present parish is St. Peter’s. The day we stepped through the door we knew were in a special place. We have become quickly involved in the community here, singing in the choir, and through my service on the altar guild and as a lay Eucharistic visitor. I am honored and humbled that they are walking with me in this discernment and vocational journey. We are thankful for the ministers, parishioners, and community of St. Peter’s every day.