Coming Home

“And when all my hopes in them [the priests] and in all men were gone, so that I had nothing outwardly to help me, nor could I tell what to do; then, oh then I heard a voice which said, "There is one, even Jesus Christ, that can speak to thy condition": and when I heard it, my heart did leap for joy.”-George Fox
I am what is called a “convinced Friend”.  This is a Quaker-speak way to say that I was not born into the Religious Society of Friends, but rather, have found it later in life. I may kid around some days and call myself a “thoroughly convinced Friend”, but I believe that early Quakers were trying to communicate something important when they chose that word. 
I was convinced, not converted.

There was no alter call that I answered, no watertight apologetic I read, no creed to accept, no series of rituals to perform…and no fear of eternal consequences to avoid.  There was no person who sat me down and sold me on Quakerism.

The crux of my convincement was the Light of Christ that I experienced.  I think that my heart was being prepared and taught by the Inward Teacher long before I ever set foot inside of a Quaker Meeting.  The written accounts of Quakers before me, and the words that they used, connect deeply with what I felt deep inside. 

Perhaps it sounds like I’m spending a long time trying to emphasize the non-coercive experience of becoming a Quaker, but it is important to my story…because before I found Friends my experience was quite the opposite. 
I was not born into the Religious Society of Friends, I was born into the Apostolic Faith Church.
…thats Pentecostal.
I don’t want to linger too much on this post about my childhood in the Pentecostal tradition. Believe me, there will be many many many entries to come that will cover that part of the story in detail.  
What is important for you to know now, is that for 18 years of my life, the Pentecostal church was my life.  And, as is true of many within the LGBTQ community, there came a point in time where it was impossible for me to keep going to this community of Christians. In an astoundingly short amount of time, many friends, my framework for understanding God, my hope of heaven, and my faith were severed from me so completely
Scarred so deeply.

I wanted nothing. NOTHING. to do with the church again.  
Now I got to have the privilege of walking through my community, trying to bind up the wounds of the mangled and mutilated millions that an uncaring Church has left to die!
Christianity became synonymous and interchangeable with ignorant, self-righteous, hypocritical,  violent, indoctrinators.  I felt robbed of all the hours that I wasted trying desperately to please a god that did not exist….what a joke.
Do. Not. call yourself a Christian, and expect to be my friend.
…oh boy, my heart is beating fast in my chest even as I typed all that out.  Unfortunately, I can still go back to those memories very quickly…
*presses fast forward button*
Well, through a series of unlikely events, I found myself at the premier Evangelical Quaker University of Oregon- George Fox University. 
I was an atheist sitting in the middle of Christian Disneyland.  Oh yeah I could grit my teeth and smile with them as they would worship and such…I knew they weren’t all bad…but boy could some of them piss me off.
By my third year there, my views towards Christians had somewhat softened.  Christ, in spite of Christians, was interesting to me.  When I helped start an LGBTQA student organization at the school (there will be maaaaaany posts on that in the future as well), I became particularly fascinated by the Christian allies who were joining; especially the Quakers.  These young Friends seemed to possess what they professed to believe. Truly surprising. 
Though I was a Junior at the school bearing the namesake of the founder of Quakerism…I had no idea what Quakers actually were.
As part of the club’s initial outreach, I decided that it was important to contact the local denomination of Quakers that the school was affiliated with.  They were called the “Northwest Yearly Meeting of Friends Church”…whatever the hell a “Yearly Meeting” is.
When someone from the Yearly Meeting agreed to have coffee with me, I was able to get my planned formal introductions out of the way, and now I had a perfect chance get the inside scoop on Quakers! 
No such thing as a stupid question right? Well for a solid two hours I asked about as many as I could think of, and received intriguing answers.
The most interesting bit of the conversation to me was towards the tail end of it, when the Friend told me that there was 1 church within the Yearly Meeting that had become officially welcoming and affirming of LGBTQ people.
My jaw hit the floor.
I knew the culture of GFU, and how it was supposed to be influenced by the denominational beliefs of the Northwest Yearly Meeting.  You’re telling me that there is a part of that denomination that is welcoming and affirming?!?!

I gotta see this… this West Hills Friends church.

My goal would be an intellectual and diplomatic one.  I would walk in on a Sunday morning, politely sit through the service, find the pastor afterwards and shake their hand, saying something to the effect of “thanks for being welcoming, carry on!” and leave.  
I drove up to the meetinghouse on a Sunday morning, and the anxiety that would normally rise in me when I considered entering a church again was strangely absent.  I parked and started walking to the door, I was a little late.  It was then that I had probably one of the most mystical experiences of my life.  Before I had entered the door, or even heard a word spoken from any person there, my eyes began to fill with tears.

I slipped in towards the back of the rows of pews, and I don’t remember at all what was said that day, I was just crying. My soul felt like it had come home, and my heart was filled with joy.  Needless to say, this would not be my last visit.
I’m very blessed to have found West Hills, and I know I am supposed to be there. 
My constant prayer for the queer community, is that everyone will be able to come home someday, that they will find joy and love, and that their conditions will be spoken to.  I’m a convinced Quaker, and I am thoroughly convinced that Spirit loves the LGBTQ community. 


  1. Well, you brought tears to my eyes with your story, my friend. I will be at West Hills this first day on behalf of QVS and will be holding you there. This is a word of encouragement for me. Thank youi.

    1. You've given me many words of encouragement, ever since I first met you on that sweltering day at Reedwood Friends.

  2. My own story is that when I came out of the closet I was a self confirming practicing Catholic who had converted from a Quaker and Jewish Heritage. While losing sight of the in depth struggle many would have with a conflict in religious values. I found developing LGBT values within the Quaker community helped reinforce some of the Buddhist, Jewish and Quaker values I grew up with. I now seem homosexuality and not ideology as the self confirming testimony I have to offer my peers as a Quaker. While there seems to be no hostility and very little actual disapproval. I find I am making my way back almost by scratch to a deep sorrow that filled me with pain, as I learn to walk with pride amongst gay Christians. My actual relationship to others in the gay community helped to restore my faith to it's origin and bring to the surface that I am sole result of my choices and decisions. It helped me to revive a faith in what is beautiful, and not just a contradiction to what is oppressive.

    1. Thanks for sharing that Robben! I too found that my sexuality (or experience as a sexual minority rather) has helped me return to faith and has deepened my own journey. Take care Friend!



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