Evangelizing over dessert

The Rev. Susan Russell of All Saints, Pasadena, is a member of a task force for the Standing Committee for Liturgy and Music (SCLM) that is working on how to implement resolution CO56, to “collect and develop” resources for the blessings of same sex unions.

Writing on her blog, she tells us about the task force’s recent visit to the Bishops’ Meeting in Arizona to report on progress. The four members of the task force had a working dinner at their hotel, where something amazing happened.

[W]e settled into a long, lively dinner that included a dessert course with a side order of evangelism as three young hotel staff members came up to the table and individually engaged with us about the work the Episcopal Church is doing.

The first one was a waiter – “Michael” – who said as a gay man it had never occurred to him that there were churches that would welcome him rather than condemn him. He thanked us for giving him hope that he hadn’t imagined he’d ever have with an earnestness that was deeply moving.

A few minutes later “Amanda” … our waitress … came up to the table to say that she’d encouraged Michael to come talk to us because she’d found him crying in the kitchen after listening to our conversations. She was raised Catholic but it “didn’t fit” anymore and she wanted to know where she should go to find an Episcopal Church. I gave her my card and told her to email me and I’d hook her up with folks in Phoenix.

The third was “Vanessa” … their supervisor … who thanked us for connecting with them and told us about her experience of finally finding a church home that helped her claim a relationship with God … and then being devastated when that church family rejected her gay friend. She’s going to email me, too.

It blew us away.

While we were obsessing about perfecting PowerPoint slides and refining our messaging about the SCLM project, these earnest young people responded to the few crumbs of conversation they overheard at our dinner table like they were starving for hope. And if those crumbs gave them that hope and energy – and gave them the courage to come up to a table full of “church people” and say, “Wow … we want to know more about what you’re talking about!” then imagine how they and countless others like them are yearning for the banquet we set every time we gather to witness to God’s inclusive love.

Keep talking. Because you never know who may be listening!

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