This Is Family

December 31, 2015 @ 01:17 pm by Daniel Kessel

On a recent Sunday at Middle Church, member Kelly told the touching story of how she came to adopt her son, Jonah.

"About 14 and a half years ago, I was looking into adoption, and I had been told I'd be waiting at least a year. 'That's okay, I'm young,' I thought.

"And I got a call about three days later, 'Could you take a baby?' And I was like, 'Yeah!' On Maundy Thursday 2001, the most beautiful seven-and-a-half-week-old, eight-and-a-half-pound baby was put in my arms. After three days of no sleep, and basically being in complete and utter shock at how my life had changed, there was no place that next Sunday morning that I wanted to be more than at Middle Church.

"We sat near the front on the right side--if you've been here on Easter it's packed and crazy--and I got here on time but not early with my baby, Jonah.

"We sat right next to the trumpets and the piano and I thought, 'Okay, this is going to be a disaster.' And he slept the whole time.

"At one point, we prayed and I can still remember these giant tears were just coming out of my eyes and falling on him and falling on me. And to this day, I don't know who it was, but I felt a hand reach out and just pat me gently on the back. And I thought, 'This is it. This is where I want to be. This is my family, this is my new family, and we are all family.' And we've been here ever since.

"To this day, when things happen in the world—after the Eric Garner non-indictment, after Trayvon Martin, after George Zimmerman's acquittal, after all these things—there is nowhere on those Sundays that I want to be other than Middle, and there's nowhere that I want Jonah to be other than Middle.

"When we first joined, there was a utility closet off the Sanctuary that was used as the nursery. On Sunday morning, they would clear out the dangerous stuff and put a crib in there. I used to think, 'Oh my gosh, if my social worker ever showed up, Jonah might not be my child anymore.' You can see the amazing things that have changed in 14 years. We have a beautiful childcare center. We have programs for children and youth.

"Jonah has basically done every program Middle has ever offered. We're here all the time. We're so grateful to John Del Cueto for the amazing work that he does. Jonah adds, 'Don¹t forget Jacqui, don't forget Jacqui!' So shout out to Jacqui Lewis.

"There are so many amazing things that have happened here for kids. That being said, like any family, I think there are always things we could be doing more. There are so many kids who need to know the love and acceptance of Middle. We're given so many negative messages about what it means to be a person of faith in this world, and I really look to Jim Kast-Keat and the folks here at Middle to help me raise Jonah in a way that he understands the truth about his faith and the love and the acceptance and the inclusion. And there's so much we can still be doing in that way.

"What can you do? You can contribute to Middle Church and support the programs offered to youth. If you have children, if you know children, if you're touched by children, you know how important this is. Think about the children in your life and the many ways they can benefit from a place like this, and just give what you can to help that continue and grow. Thank you."

Kelly has been attending Middle Church for 18 years and a member for about 15 years and serves on the Stewardship team. To see a video of Kelly telling this story at Middle Church, click here.

Sophia's Healing Moment

December 17, 2015 @ 05:45 pm by Daniel Kessel

“I grew up singing in the church, and then I was excommunicated and publicly shamed when I was 13, and I have not sung in a church since until right now," Sophia said after singing “You’re My Joy” last Sunday in worship.

Watch this video until the end to see Sophia’s moving words:

Sophia grew up in a Puerto Rican Pentecostal Church in the South Bronx. As a smart, articulate girl, she believed she would one day grow up to become a preacher.

“I used to always ask a lot of hard questions,” she said. “The pastor hated me for that. He really didn’t like me at all. He was also machismo and sexist.”

When Sophia was 13 years old, a 15-year-old girlfriend framed her for something she didn’t do. “I didn’t smoke pot, but I was with this girl when pot was being smoked. And she told her mother and the pastor that I was the bad influence. And everyone quickly believed it because of how independent and headstrong I was.”

Confronted by the pastor, Sophia went along with the older girl’s story. “I thought, What would Jesus do?” Sophia remembers. Her membership was revoked in front of the entire congregation, and she was excommunicated from her church.

“And so I left and became a sinner, [laughter], like any good Pentecostal should [more laughter],” Sophia said. And she also went on to become a successful singer and performer.

Singing at Middle Collegiate Church on December 13, 2015, was the first time Sophia sang in a church since she was 13 years old.

“I’m just going to sing this song to God. And that’s why I never made eye contact with the congregation. Because that’s a beautiful song with beautiful lyrics with a beautiful melody. That was healing.”

Making a Difference for Our Children

December 9, 2015 @ 12:28 pm by Daniel Kessel

"Singing with the choir makes me feel happy and perfect," said Dominick.

Dominick is growing up at Middle Church surrounded by your love and our children's programming. Your stories of faith and your dedication to justice guide how he sees the world around him and how he views himself.

He’s an active member of our Village Chorus for Children & Youth, and he participates in the children’s activities including The Ark and the weekly Message for All Ages during worship.

Your giving allows DJ and other children to grow up in a faith community that honors all paths to God and is dedicated to those on the margins. Donate here.

About This Blog

You make such a difference in so many lives! Here are their stories.

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