More than two years ago, the interim senior pastor at the church I worked for sidelined me from ministry because I call myself a gay Christian. He criticized me behind closed doors, telling me that by calling myself a gay Christian I was uniting the name of my sin to the name of my Savior and bringing dishonor on the Gospel. He talked well about me in public, telling parents of kids in the youth group that I was living the single life better than most other single guys he knew, gay or straight.
The vast difference with which he talked about me privately and publicly was disorienting to say the least. He categorized his relationship toward me as “painfully nurturing.” He insisted I wasn’t being disciplined but assigned me to a ‘discipleship group’ even so–so that he could have others teach me what “reconciliation” was about. I’d already attempted to reconcile with him on multiple occasions and he didn’t have anything to do with the actual group.
One perhaps might understand why I felt bullied and alone. In the end, I had to resign. I simply couldn’t take the continual devaluing of my gifts and rejection of my testimony as someone who was trying to live a biblically-informed sexual standard.
I’ve not written about this publicly. In fact, my Facebook status the day I was told I could no longer sing publicly read this way:
I’ve been promoted to “Music assistant” from “Music Intern.” That means I’ll get more responsibility (and more cash!). I’m very excited about this promotion and am glad to (more officially) join the staff at Central!
For now, I will be concentrating on administrative duties like scheduling and creative duties like arranging/orchestration instead of week-to-week singing. It’ll only be for a season, but it isn’t clear how long that season will be. Sometimes one thing has to take priority over another, but I expect that I will learn a great deal in this season on the administrative and orchestration sides of things.
I did, in fact, learn a lot. I’m a much better orchestrator–at a pretty steep price. My anxiety and depression persist down to the present day.
I was yelled at during a small group meeting by an elder. Things I shared in two different small groups were shared outside of those groups, breaking confidence. I had to sit through weekly meetings with a leader who made it very clear that his way of seeing things was the only way. Both the elder who yelled at me and the interim pastor were outright abusive in their manner and dealings.
So where am I two years later? I attend a church down the road from my previous church. Though they are close geographically, the church I attend presently is about as far apart as one could get spiritually. My present church, Memorial Presbyterian, allows me to use my gifts regularly in music. The elders and pastors have shown me a lot of mercy and grace as I’ve recovered from the events of 2015-2016. I’m also the executive director of an arts venue that has a mission to build rapport with the local arts community. I’m finally off of my depression and heartburn meds.
God has been good for me in ways I could never have anticipated in July of 2015. What happened to me ought never happen to anyone. Those are two things I hold together, though they often feel worlds apart.