My Huffington Post piece: a gay Christian goes back to church

18 Apr

Easter is the most important time for Christians in which they believe Jesus died on the cross for their sins and resurrected three days later. This season reminds me of the last time I regularly went to church. I wept uncontrollably for most of the Easter service several years ago as I was still struggling to accept my sexuality.

I didn’t believe I belonged there as a gay Christian and left the church.

I recently wrote a piece for the Huffington Post on the challenges and complexities I’ve experienced going back to church. You can read my post, From Familiar to Foreign: A Gay Christian Goes Back to Church.

Spoiler alert: it’s really, really hard! Despite many challenges and feeling overwhelmed, I’ve met some really kind people and this community is an important place I long for.

My "church challenges" have been lonely and rocky. (Jenna Tenn-Yuk)

My “church challenges” have been a lonely and rocky experience. (Jenna Tenn-Yuk)

Last year, I started a challenge to go back to church. On one of my church challenges, I caught myself looking around as I entered the building and part of me was afraid of being seen by anyone I knew. I had similar thoughts and fears when I started going to gay bars. I laughed at the irony of the situation and how much life had changed.

How could a place that used to feel like home become so foreign to me?

I’ve become a stranger who sat at the back of the church and planned an escape route in case it was too difficult to be there. I know you don’t need a church building to find God, and I’ve experienced his presence in powerful ways outside of the church and Christian communities. However, I’ve missed having that community and actively seeking God with other people.

Nature is one of the places I experience God. (Jenna Tenn-Yuk)

God shows up in nature. (Jenna Tenn-Yuk)

Spoken word has felt like church to me. (Artemysia Fragiskatos)

God shows up at poetry shows. (Artemysia Fragiskatos)

The church is so broken, but it has also been a place of love, safety and refuge for many people, including myself. Many of my friends who are gay and Christian long for this place of community again, but many don’t feel welcomed there.

We need to do something different and not be afraid of the tensions and complexities. Let’s be okay to sit in the mess and questions with one another. Let’s remember what Jesus’ message was actually about.

Take this season to reflect on your journey, but also think about those individuals who are on the margins, desiring a place to call home.

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2 Responses to “My Huffington Post piece: a gay Christian goes back to church”

  1. CJ April 19, 2014 at 9:49 am #

    Jenna, I understand your journey…. I found a church “home” again with MCC. mccchurch.org Check out a place for all to be who they are and be comfortable in their faith.

    • Jenna Tenn-Yuk April 22, 2014 at 11:51 pm #

      Thanks for your message, CJ. I’ve also heard great things about MCC and I hope to check out one of their churches.

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