I just read about the transformation of Louis J. Marinelli. http://louisjmarinelli.com/politics/i-now-support-full-marriage-equality.
There are many layers to this story that stand out for me. First, LGBT people and allies kept showing up and kept talking. They were successful in presenting themselves in a way that reached Louis. It took time. I'm sure some contact with the LGBT community was quite confrontational but enough was patient and specifically addressed his position in a way that helped him see that his position was NOT one of compassion or reason.
We are not going to change hearts and minds overnight. But we need to keep patiently talking and showing up. I believe respectfully showing up, patiently questioning and carefully speaking truth will make a difference. It takes time. It's not easy.
Hearts and minds are changing dramatically - seemingly overnight - EVEN in Venango County.
The LGBT community is no longer silent and invisible. Openly gay people are serving in leadership roles all around the community - at the hospital, the university, on boards and in elected political positions. It seemingly happened overnight - right here in Venango County.
Why? Anger, division and lack of compassion get very old after a while. It drives people away. Venango County churches have seen the results in dwindling numbers. It doesn't lift anyone's spirits to be stepping on others.
My friends have recently encouraged me to visit churches with them. THIS was a tall request. I know about the petitions that circulated the Venango County church community that directly attacked me and my friends. One of my friends was forced out of the clergy because she openly declared her love for another woman. I have not felt safe or comfortable in a church for decades.
With great resistance, I have gone. Three churches now - I'm beginning to calm down a bit. There's no doubt that 90% of the church community knows who I am so if they accept or reject me, it is about who they think I am. Most don't really know me, of course. They just know what they have been told.
I am experiencing my own personal transformation. I'll likely have a lot more to say about this excursion into the Venango County church community. I'm told we will be visiting many churches and as this is evolving, I am enjoying the experience more.
Having been far from the traditional church for decades, my spiritual and religious beliefs are VERY far from traditional. However, I have often missed the feeling of a church family. I also love discussing philosophy and hearing messages that make me think about the human condition. Going with friends that I love and trust, who also love to discuss afterwards, is turning into a real joy.
So, how were these church visits? I will say overwhelmingly positive. Now that I am embracing the experience, I need to think about what my criteria are for finding a spiritual home base. And maybe it would be valuable for me to write about the experience. There must be others like me in Venango County desiring a spiritual home. If things are going to change, we need to be there. And I am beginning to believe, there are more welcoming churches here and churches in transition toward becoming more welcoming. If you agree - Say Amen!