It brings me much joy to remember that my first visit to St. John’s Church was with my Mum and Dad on April 9, 2008. They were visiting from Ireland, and we were in Lafayette Square to see the White House. We went inside St. John’s because we loved to visit churches together. I had grown up Church of Ireland (Anglican.) I remember that we were delighted by how intimate and elegant the sanctuary was.
Later that year Chip and I decided to attend St. John’s. As an interracial gay couple, we were not sure what to expect or how we would be welcomed. St. John’s was warm, and once we settled in, we connected easily. We found a church community that thinks deeply, values intellect, appreciates beauty in worship, and is committed to service through its outreach efforts.
We were married by Luis Leon in June 2011. Our families from across the US and Ireland gathered to witness our wedding, which I certainly never dreamed would happen in my lifetime. It was a beautiful service with wonderful music and liturgy. I remember the first Sunday Sam Watson asked us to present the elements during the offertory. We were both surprised and moved by this gesture of affirmation. Visibility and representation are very important. St. John’s participation at Capital Pride and the creation of an affinity group for LGBT+ parishioners send a clear message that indeed all are welcome!
I became involved with the Bishop Walker School, the most significant racial justice initiative in the Episcopal Diocese of Washington. St. John’s has generously supported BWS since it was established in 2008. I am convinced that education is the most effective tool for creating change and equity. I’m grateful for St. John’s commitment to BWS, Communities in Schools, and Kwasa in South Africa.
Like many in the parish, I was also blessed to participate in Sacred Ground. The film- and readings-based dialogue series on race, grounded in faith, helps us to gain greater clarity about the sin of racism, and explore pathways toward racial justice and healing. That so many participated is a testament to our community’s desire to listen and to learn.
Our baptismal covenant asks if we will strive for justice and peace among all people and respect the dignity of every human being. I believe St. John’s is genuinely committed to fulfilling that promise, and I am forever grateful for the strong anchor that St. John’s has become in our lives.