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Heart & Soul: Spirituality for the rest of us

If you are reading this on Tuesday, July 2, chances are that I am preparing to present, or have just presented, my workshop titled “As You Believe…” at the Universal Fellowship of Metropolitan Community Church’s General Conference in Chicago.

MCC is a pretty amazing organization. According to the MCC website, “in 1968, a year before New York’s Stonewall Riots, a series of most unlikely events in Southern California resulted in the birth of the world’s first church group with a primary, positive ministry to gays, lesbians, bisexual, and transgender persons. Those events, a failed relationship, an attempted suicide, a reconnection with God, an unexpected prophecy, and the birth of a dream led to MCC’s first worship service: a gathering of 12 people in Rev. Troy Perry’s living room in Huntington Park, California on October 6, 1968.”

Today, MCC is an international movement that has grown to 43,000 members and adherents in almost 300 congregations in 22 countries.

I carry a warm place in my heart for MCC, as it was the church in San Diego where my beloved and I met 27 years ago. And it was instrumental in my finally beginning to feel a relationship with my higher power. But there is much more to it than that.

At a time when those of us in the LGBT community were pretty much shunned by all religious organizations, there was MCC. And even if you never attended a service, there was at least the surprising idea of being able to use LGBT and church in the same sentence, in a positive way.

It wasn’t easy growing up with a belief that my higher power hated me. I never could quite figure that out, because I knew my sexual orientation wasn’t a choice, so how could it be that the way I was born made me somehow intrinsically flawed?

I’ve never been quite able to understand what the big deal was with traditional Christianity related to the LGBT community. If they are looking for a sin to be on guard against, there is a long list of them in the Ten Commandments. You remember: stealing, coveting thy neighbor’s stuff, murder, etc. Maybe it is because of the manly men who are terrified that they might find another man attractive, and might actually be one of us. Remembering some of the rabid homophobes of recent history, who went down in flames — no pun intended. But one must avoid falling into the trap of trying to apply logic and reason, because it just won’t work.

I believe that we are spiritual beings having a human experience. Note that I said spiritual, not religious. A big difference. When we peel away all the nonsense, we find that our higher power (God, Spirit, the Universe) is a loving, nurturing presence within us, not a hateful, judgmental, straight old white man on a cloud somewhere.

Thankfully, MCC paved the way for me and so many other people to get reacquainted with Spirit. Today, the LGBT community is also welcomed by the United Methodist Church, the Episcopal Church, Unity, Religious Science/New Thought, and many others.

Most of us are probably still in the afterglow of the U. S. Supreme Court’s decisions from last week related to the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) and California’s Proposition 8. It’s pretty exciting to see the ways that life is changing for us in wonderful and positive ways. But the truth that has always been, and always will be, is that Life loves us. Not anyway, but period.

Take care of yourself.

The Rev. Jerry Troyer, a native of San Diego, is the senior minister of Joyful Living Church, a non-denominational New Thought spiritual community. He is the author of the new book, “Coming Out To Ourselves … Admitting, Accepting And Embracing Who We Truly Are. Troyer and his husband, also named Jerry, live in the San Diego area with their golden retriever Roxie. Visit his website HERE.