From St. Luke's to St. James
After being a member of St. Luke’s Episcopal Church in Atlanta for almost 12 years, I have decided to transfer my membership to St. James Episcopal Church in Marietta.
The last several weeks have been a serious time of reflection and re-evaluation about my involvement in church. Over the past few years I had been gravitating toward the smaller services at St. Luke's: the 6 pm service (which doesn't exist any more) and the 8 am service (which I'd been attending less and less frequently because of the drive time from Marietta to Atlanta). St. James has a Saturday 5:30 pm Eucharist which reminds me a lot of the old 6 pm service at St. Luke's. It's a “folk mass” style service featuring a jazz combo (this past Saturday the closing processional was “Ornithology” by Charlie Parker). They also have a weekly Eucharist and Healing service on Wednesdays at 5:30 pm. It was at this service last Wednesday that I felt a very strong confirmation that transferring to St. James was the right thing for me to do. This morning I met with the Rector of St. James, the Reverend Karen Evans, and gave her the paperwork requesting the transfer.
From a practical point of view, St. James is literally five minutes away (two miles) from my apartment. St. James is very actively involved in outreach to the community -- my community, my hometown where I grew up and have lived and worked all my life. St. James, like St. Luke's, is a gay-friendly parish with an emphasis on healing. There's also a contemplative element: they have a center for spiritual direction at the church, and they have a canvas Labyrinth which they roll out for quiet days. They also have two EFM (Education For Ministry) groups; I have completed three years of this four-year program and plan to begin the final year this Fall. And my being a Sufi is not a problem; the Rector told me this morning that she did her master's thesis on Christian and Sufi spirituality.
I will always be grateful to St. Luke's for so many things, primarily for being a safe and sacred place for me to come out of my fundamentalist closet and learn to accept myself as the person God created me to be. (I wrote about this in my first article for Whosoever, Journey of Faith, Journey of Acceptance.) St. Luke's has literally transformed my life for the better. I will miss St. Luke's, but I am looking forward to what the Spirit has in store for me at St. James.