I pose to you this three part question before I get into any real story telling or “Blogging” Are ALL of God’s precious children welcome at BOTH sides of the table, is your communion table really a “WELCOME Table”, How welcoming would you be to me at your table if you knew I was different from the rest of the women and men serving you?
Please ponder these questions as I take you on a journey of discovery to see just how welcome the table really is.
I wasn’t always a Disciple so My experience with communion was really non existent. My back ground is Wesleyan/Holiness doctrine I am a Nazarene Pastor’s daughter times 2! My Dad was an elder who later became a pastor in the Church of the Nazarene and My mother a children’s pastor. I grew up in a very conservative evangelical and well slightly more charismatic denomination compared to any Disciples Church I’ve come to experience in all of my 15 years as a member of a Disciples church. I We served communion maybe once or twice a year.I never really got to experience communion until I started attending a Disciples Church.
When i first started attending the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) it was a whole new playing field for this boy who came from a non liturgical setting. I got to experience communion and eventually when I was in CYF I started to serve as a deacon. Through out my years I began to appreciate communion even though it was an every week thing. (I’m still getting used to that) Through out the years I became aware of myself my orientation my call to otherness and defending outcast had begun.. From 14-24 I thought it was easy and that more or less I was welcome as a child of God who just so happened to be attracted to the same sex… I thought for once I had a Church family that loved and supported my leadership within the Church. At 25 this changed with one simple letter and a lot of really confusing changes people didn’t expect. I came out as the woman God made me to be. I came out as a transgender male to female Woman. I got a lot of love a followed by some reactions that would confuse me and change the way I think.
The summer of 2010 was quite the summer for myself and the members of Central Christian Church of Elkhart Indiana. I was serving as a deacon and Well… I struggled that summer After a few months of coming out and giving people time to adjust My name change had been finalized. I’d grown to know and love two other people at my Church through the summer pray triads. My court date for my name change to be finalized was Friday Aug. 13th 2010 (Yes my one year anniversary is coming up) Sunday Aug. 15th one third of my prayer triad got up and reintroduced me. This began one bumpy ride as far as learning whether or not I was or am truly welcome at either sides of the table. That very Sunday after the service I was stopped by one of the elders (a newly elected elder who was still relatively new to our church at that…)This elder confronted me with mixed messages and mixed signals. I couldn’t figure out if he was coming to me saying “I love you can you help me understand?” , “I love you but I can’t accept your sin” , Or “I love you but I’m concerned others aren’t loving you” Or even something in between that. This Elder came to me and told me that I was “Scaring the shit Out of people.” He told me other elders had issue with it and he went made it so confusing I didn’t know who was for or against. He also seemed to make it seem like he was charged with coming to me which I learned was NOT true. HE said he was asked if I would wear skirts and he answered for me to the people who asked by saying no. Boy was he wrong. After this discussion I started having doubts, I started to wonder am i welcome? Should I leave or at least step down from my leadership as a deacon? What should I do? I discussed this with my friends and family in the Church while in the process of doing so I learned that one of the other elders had gotten signed letters from other members apparently trying to get me kicked out for being different. I struggled with serving communion when I would serve i wasn’t in it anymore because I wasn’t sure I was welcome. I finally decided to call my Pastor and tell him of my thoughts about stepping down from deaconing because of recent happenings.
My pastor told me he would have nothing of my decision to step down because the people in question were turned down. ever since this situation I just feel so very awkward serving communion in my own church due to the fear in the back of my mind somebody has a problem with me serving because I know that’s true! That being said here is my story on Being welcome to serve at BOTH sides of the table.
In January of 2011 I went to a conference for LGBT Christians in Denver. I was involved with Worship sunday morning for this conference, I was going to be serving communion. This particular part of worship meant so much to me as a member of the Christian Church Because of the recent struggles I’d gone through that past year. I served communion to hundreds of LGBT and LGBT affirming Christians. They didn’t care that I was a transgender woman serving them this meant so much to me!
I served Communion to a bunch of people as an openly trans woman with an openly gay man. We served the elements to people and WITHOUT the FEAR that soembody had a problem with it. When I would go to my church and serve communion there I always had this fear people have a problem with it because I’m well aware they do. They don’t understand that when I say “the body of Christ Broken for you” and “the blood of Christ Shed for you” It isn’t just for them and it ISN’T just for the self righteous people who claim that Christ came to save me from my sin of gender dysphoria… They tell me that Jesus can save me from all of that! well Jesus did save me but he saved me from the sin I was born into He saved me from each sin I make It’s hard to admit that we ALL sin and the little things we do we might not think of as sins. but all that aside I will ALWAYS have Christ because HE LOVES ME AS I AM! JUST As I am!
This was the affirmation I received from the spirit after serving communion as an openly trans woman.
Fast forward to well now just a few weeks ago at the General assembly 2011 for the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) the second full day of assembly Monday I was asked by an affirming pastor to serve communion with him. He asked me this knowing I’m trans and knowing that I had a passion to serve. I was nervous I would be serving THOUSANDS of people some of whom wouldn’t be so happy to see an openly trans woman serving them. I went and I served and it was an AMAZING experience I felt affirmed for serving I felt like God put me there and whether or not ANYONE in the room didn’t want to welcome me at the table I was still welcome at that table NO MATTER what my identity or orientation. After the service I got stopped by a rather fun outgoing woman I am now blessed to call friend. She wanted to tell me how she appreciated my serving so openly and my courage to do so. This yet again affirmed my being welcome at both sides of the table whether or not others don’t think so.
These are all positive stories, however unfortunately they are NOT all this positive there are Churches where people who are different Be it race or ethnicity, gender,gender identity sexual orientation, different theological/doctrinal ideologies etc etc. are not welcome at both sides of the table to eat or to serve. How can we as Christians celebrate the feast of love eating at the “welcome table” When there are Christians being denied the right to serve or even be served at the welcome table? Is your table a welcome table?