For many years of my early adulthood I searched for a church home. I would scour the internet looking for a faith community I could call my own, but truthfully… none of them appealed to me. Dallas is home to Cathedral of Hope which is said to be the world’s largest gay congregation, but I just couldn’t get on board with that. I recognized the necessity of this community for a number of people, but it wasn’t what I needed. I didn’t feel different. I didn’t feel as if I needed a gay church. I wanted a community that reflected my actual life and though a number of them are, most of the people in my life don’t identify as LGBTQ. I wanted a place where these issues were important but not the main identity of the church. I would frequent gaychurch.org in hopes that I would find something that suited that need and finally in the summer of 2013 I saw a church on the list that had previously not been there. I found Galileo Christian Church, a Disciples of Christ community in Mansfield, TX. After months of liking facebook updates and a few messages to and from the pastor, I found myself in a dimly lit place in my life and worked up the courage to go to church. Quite literally as I was looking up directions, Katie (the pastor) sent me a message on facebook saying “Kyle, come to church, dude!” So I did. And nearly two and a half years later, I’m still there. So, here are just a few reasons why I church where I church.
- Galileo is non-traditionally… traditional. What I mean by that is that while you may not have ever experienced a worship service like ours, there’s still a strong emphasis on liturgy. We read the Bible. We say the Lord’s Prayer. We take communion and say words of institution. We just do things a little differently. We sing traditional hymns followed by some Johnny Cash. You’re likely to hear a “four letter word” in any given sermon. We don’t shy away from hard texts, in fact, we embrace them (we once had a series called “Monsters in the Dark: the Ugly Psalms”). Worship with Galileo is a truly unique and beautiful experience that provides a renewed idea of what worship looks like.
- When I’m not feeling worshipful, that’s fine. From the start of the worship service we encourage everyone to do what feels right for them. Whether that means participating fully in the service, walking around outside, holding a baby, or whatever else it may be that connects a person to God. There have been days when I’ve found myself in no mood to sit through song, scripture, and sermon. Days when I’ve had to walk out multiple times because my thoughts were too loud or my heart too heavy. But every time I’ve had one of those days where I show up knowing I can’t commit to being fully present in the service, God has sought me out and met me where I am (if you don’t already know the story, ask me about the time I planned on skipping communion).
- We take social justice seriously. I have personally had the amazing privilege of representing Galileo at a number of conferences pertaining to LGBTQ inclusion in the church. We march in pride parades. We show up for Black Lives Matter rallies and we truly believe that with all of our being. Our pastor has participated in an interfaith peace panel and we will soon host a discussion where two Muslim women will share with us what their faith means to them and how they experience life. We firmly believe in equality and justice for all people, regardless of race, religion, gender, sexuality, disability, income level, education, etc.
- We know how to throw a party. I’ll just leave these two links here. The Theology of Parties and Why we Play Cards Against Humanity. But seriously… We like to party. We’ll find any excuse to do it. Dos de Mayo. We survived the holidays. After church surprise dance party. Those are literally just a few of the parties we’ve thrown.
- I’m not required to check my brain at the door. That’s one thing you hear a lot if you come to Galileo, but it’s the truth. I’m free to explore my relationship with God with the confidence that I’ll be supported in my faith journey, regardless of where I’m at. I’m not asked to sit quietly and go along with everything that’s said and done. We encourage exploring the hard parts of life, questioning God, and developing our own understanding of the world. Growth requires learning, but not much learning is done when you’re told what and how to believe, which is why Galileo Church does its best (we’re not perfect) to remain open in how we receive others.
I feel so incredibly lucky to have found a faith community that allows me to be who I am and whose priorities align with my own. I know Galileo isn’t for everyone but it’s my hope that those who are seeking will find a place where their needs are met and where they are loved unconditionally. If you’re searching for a church home or resources that align with a progressive nature (I hate that term. Why is it progressive to view all of God’s people as equal? I digress…) I recommend checking out gaychurch.org, the Gay Christian Network, and the Convergence Network.