Twenty years came together in one night in Denver!
This last week was a wonderful time to remember. I spent six days in Denver for a wonderful time of old friends, new friends, and time with family.
The first few days were full of opportunities for encouragement and renewed friendship. Saturday evening some friends, Rick and Rodney, invited me to a gathering with some work friends. We went bowling and then to dinner at Larimer Square in Denver. It was a great way to begin the week.
On Sunday I attended two worship services, one at the Church of The Rockies, and the other at The Highlands Church. Both are inclusive churches that serve a diverse crowd including those who are gay and want a Christ centered family to worship with. I found them both to be very encouraging places each having their own personality. At the end of the service at The Highlands, I talked with several people who attend there that I have recently come to know. It was like home for me.
After church, six of us went to lunch at a wonderful Asian restaurant. After sitting down, two of us recognized one another from a former time in our lives. This man was in the Love In Action program in 2006. I think he was shocked to see me and I was certainly surprised to see him. Our meeting began the series of reunion connections that came during the week.
As it would be, another real blessing came from being able to see my sister and her family due to a recent move to Denver from Winnipeg, MB. I hadn’t seen her for several years and we had a wonderful time catching up and both wish we had had more time.
Tuesday Surprise Meeting
On Tuesday morning a friend, Joe, invited me to meet with Christine Bakke-O’neil. Christine is a passionate lady who speaks regularly about her thoughts of how harmful ex-gay ministry can be for some participants. She has been somewhat critical of my role as a leader in the movement and skeptical about my role today as I minister with the gay community.
As we met and exchanged friendly words we began to hear one another’s hearts and I believe we both found a good outcome from our time. I listened as she critiqued my articles and gave me some very helpful feedback and suggestions. It is always a good thing to meet people and discover their person hood! A new friend was made at Starbucks! Thank you Joe for getting us together.
Tuesday Spaghetti Dinner
One evening I had a wonderful spaghetti dinner with a young man named John, and his sweet family that I met in January in Orlando. We had a great time talking about deep things of the Lord and sharing our lives together. It’s always good to be able to continue a friendship in person!
While I was in Denver I also had a lunch meeting with the two pastors from The Highlands Church. The rich experience of knowing others who have experienced a transition of perspective on how to process being gay and a Christian is tremendously rewarding. I found Mark and Jenny to be caring, insightful, and wise. It was a good shot in the arm for me personally to meet with them.
Wednesday Evening: Film Preview
The central reason I went to Denver was that I was recently invited to participate in a discussion panel for a preview of “This is What Love In Action Looks Like.” The documentary that chronicled a very large protest of Love In Action’s ministry in June of 2005. The film preview took place at the Metropolitan State College of Denver. I checked around to find who might be interested in seeing the film. As the event came closer, I invited 16 people from many facets of my history who lived in or near Denver.
At the film, there were former Love In Action clients from my early years of Love In Action in Northern California (1993), the early years in Memphis (1996), the middle years in Memphis (2005), and even the man I reconnected with from 2006. As I prepared to watch the film it dawned on me that two of the former clients were present for the actual protest and they knew many of the people interviewed in the film.
The invitation list included some new friends who were interested in seeing the film as well as some ministry leaders in the Denver area. I found it very interesting to review their take on the film afterward.
As I looked around the room, the time and space that was represented from my world was really amazing. We had a wonderful reunion, but I also realized there would likely be some emotions felt from what was about to be shown.
After the film, Morgan Jon Fox and I took questions and gave our insights from what the film represented for us as individuals. I share each time how I have been challenged by the intense review of the ministry that I participated in for so many years. It is always hard for me to watch the film because there are some parts that I feel grieved to see and also feel embarrassed about.
About ten of us went to a local restaurant for decompressing from the evening. What a great ending to a wonderful week!
Busy, Busy, Times
I was booked up morning, noon, and night but I had a few hours alone to catch my breath. I really felt energized from the time I was there. Thanks to a very generous friend, I was given their entire house (while they were away) for my stay and I had some good time for rest and reflection. Across from the house I stayed in was this amazing view!