“I first joined All Saints’ Episcopal Church in the early eighties and it was here that I married the mother of my children. We taught Sunday School, my children were members of the children’s and hand bell choirs, I completed the EfM program, I started a Writer’s Group, we attended Foyer Dinners, went to Kanuga many times and I helped sponsor the initial Men’s Group.
During the 1990s, we left to join another Episcopal church in the suburbs. After going to that that church for five years, my wife and I divorced when our children were in high school and I moved back to the city.
Rather than continue to drive outside the Perimeter, to sit in alone in Sunday morning service, I realized it was time to come back to All Saints’.
On my first Sunday back, kneeling to take communion at the altar, our Rector, Geoffrey Hoare, placed the wafer into the outstretched palms of my hands, looked me in my eyes and said ‘Welcome Home, Jim.’ Flooded with emotion, I knew God’s grace and understood the true meaning of homecoming and being received back where I truly belong. Like the Scripture says: ‘You…wandered far away; and yet, as a mother cares for her children, you would not forget us.’
So many of the people I had known and grown to love during my earlier years here welcomed me back with hugs and handshakes, no questions asked. It was the true spiritual homecoming that I needed so much at this time in my life. I was wrestling with what I had worked so hard to create that had come tumbling down: my perfect looking life. I had experienced upheaval after so many years of cultivating the hard work of raising and growing my family.
During the time after my divorce, I also found myself struggling with many difficult personal questions that I wouldn’t face before, one of which was my sexual identity. I had been suppressing a curiosity about an attraction to men that I had pushed deep inside. I was now grappling with a newfound freedom to explore it.
In a few months I met a man who, like me, had raised a family but realized he couldn’t pretend to be straight while he was miserable inside. After deciding that we wanted to spend time together, I invited him to come with me to All Saints’.
The All Saints’ members have warmly welcomed us as a couple and most importantly, my friends from my earlier days here have embraced and welcomed us without questions. Robert, by his own choice, has now been confirmed as an Episcopalian.
The Celebration of our Union is the first to be officially recognized at All Saints’ on February 2, 2013. Our children stood with us as our friends and family came to our church to bless our commitment to one another.
All Saints’ has truly shown itself to be a blessing to my husband and me. I continue to be extremely proud to call this my home church. As Simon said in his sermon, ‘I was found by God.’ That is true for me here.”
HI Jim!! Miss you and love this!! xoo, Florence
Hi Florence. Thanks for reaching out to me. I miss you your writing but not nearly so much as I miss you! I hope all is well. Robert says hello.
God bless you both !!! My younger brother so yearned to marry the man of his dreams but God had other plans. ” May you go forth to love and serve the Lord, Alleluia !”