People Can Change
Here is a post written by Kerry Noble, a main subject in the film. Twenty-six years ago he almost committed what would have been the largest terrorist attack on domestic soil, by detonating a bomb inside a gay church. Hearing the voices of the congregation changed his mind. Twenty-six years later he writes of his very different experience inside a gay church. His words are a strong and hopeful affirmation that PEOPLE CAN CHANGE. Twenty-six years ago most of us would have labeled him an evil zealot. Today we recognize that he was a misguided human. If Kerry can have the courage to change his views on the world – I think it’s time the world has the courage to change its views on persons like Kerry. Not only as the man he is today, but as the man he was twenty-six years ago.
CHANGE. Not a word all of us like; not a word the country always likes. Change can be difficult, uncomfortable, and require self-examination. But change can be good.
Twenty-six years ago this coming June, I walked into a gay church in Kansas City, Missouri with a bomb, for the express purpose of “starting the 2nd American Revolution.” This hate act would have been the largest domestic terrorist act in US history up to that time, had I not regained my senses just seconds before setting the timer. The worshiping actions of those in the congregation of that Metropolitan Community Church, however, helped rescue me and save me from myself and the right-wing extremist deception I was entangled with.
Today — March 21, 2010 — I once again stepped into a church that caters mostly to the gay and lesbian community of Fort Worth: this time as a visitor looking for a home church. No, I’m not coming out of the closet! ) I found this church three weeks ago in a Google search for “an all-inclusive church.” Events since then blocked my desire to attend this church, but today my wife and I attended.
Why this church? Since coming home from prison, I’ve been unable to find a church I was comfortable in. We’ve tried Charismatic fellowships (loved the music, but too much end-time doctrine that I no longer adhere to, too much hypocrisy, and they didn’t welcome all believers); we tried Messianic churches (again, really loved the music, but most are into the Charismatic movement and end-time doctrines); and we tried Unity and other churches that simply did not emphasize Jesus enough. But I simply found most churches preach too much discrimination (especially against gays and lesbians), too much “signs of the times heralding in the return of Christ” mentality, and too much of a leaning toward right-wing theology or the Christian Right. So we simply quit trying to find a church.
An all-inclusive church believes in people more than doctrines, believes in truth more than dogmas, believes in healing and love more than division and hate, and believes in solutions more than rhetoric. An all-inclusive church seeks the best in people, seeks commonality over differences, and seeks hope and joy over fear and despair.
So why not attend an all-inclusive church sooner? Honestly, I feared they would not accept me, with the past I had (probably stemming from not fully accepting myself yet). It’s an unfounded fear, I know that, but isn’t that how all fear is anyway? I know I’ve changed since those days 26 years ago and I know others have accepted me for who I am now.
We plan to go to this church again next week, Palm Sunday. The female pastor introduced herself to us and we enjoyed her sermon. The people were friendly. And I am betting that their inclusiveness will include people like me, people that once opposed them and have since changed.
This church has ministries that I would like to participate in and I think I can learn a lot from the people there. Leaving Celebration Community Church today, I felt encouraged rather than discouraged about “the church experience;” I felt, actually, more at home. And isn’t that what a home church (or synagogue or mosque or other religious congregation) is supposed to be like?
Change. I’m actually enjoying this one.
The NOBLE Report
“Building Bridges, Not Walls”