THE BEST PLACE TO MEET PEOPLE
Recently the Quad-City Times printed their "Best Places" questionnaire. I decided to send it in to support my favorite restaurants, bars, parks, etc.
When I came to the spot for "Best Places to Meet People" I started thinking about bars. I decided that the people that you meet in bars are mostly intoxicated, "party people". Is that the kind of friends I want to meet? No. If hanging out in bars is their concept of a life, what sort of relationship would that be? Maybe my favorite place to meet people is at work? Now don't get me wrong - I really like the people that I work with, but really, do I actually know them? I would totally talk to them if I saw them in public, but do I really know them? Are they married? In school? Do they have children? What do they believe in? At this point I was stumped thinking of a good meeting place.
I began to think of the people I have met since I moved to the Quad-Cities a few years ago from Chicago. All of the people that I now consider my family - the people that I hug or kiss when we meet - the ones that I get involved with in causes to help others less fortunate (such as helping with Habitat for Humanity, feeding the hungry, fundraisers, housing for PWA's, etc.) where did I meet these people? Then it hit me - the truly beautiful, caring, supportive people that I have been blessed with in my life I have met since I walked through the doors of the Metropolitan Community Church of the Quad Cities.
I remember the first time I attended church at MCCQC. I was getting dressed to leave, already nervous about what to expect, when I received a phone call that my father, who lives in Ft. Myers, FL, had been found on the bathroom floor from an apparent stroke. Not knowing if he was going to make it, my first thought was to get to the airport. What to do? I finally decided to go to MCC and hope God would listen to my prayers. It was worth a shot even though I felt that I had no "right" to ask God for a favor. After all, I hadn't even been to church for almost 30 years, for years I had abused my body with alcohol and drugs and had left my family to become an immoral gay man. God certainly didn't owe me anything. But, I had to do something, so I went to MCC, and sat in the back row hoping nobody would notice that I was visibly upset.
I had never been to an MCC church before and was surprised that it was so casual... people wearing jeans and T-shirts, same-sex couples with their arms around each other, shouts of AMEN whenever someone agreed with something the pastor would say. Kinda weird, I thought.
When it came time for everyone to hold hands and share their prayers for their friends and families and for the world in general, I thought I should ask them to pray for my father, but just thinking about it made me start to shake and I couldn't hold back the tears. At that point I really just wanted to get up and run out. Then I felt a gentle hand on my back and was handed a box of Kleenex. Did they really care that I was upset and hurting? Absolutely! As I have now realized, everyone at MCC deeply cares for you as if you were family.
As if that weren't enough, when Pastor Rich was preparing to serve communion he told the congregation that all were invited to partake in communion and that wherever you have been and whatever you have done our God is a loving God and you are forgiven.
After months of therapy my father will be celebrating his 80th birthday tomorrow. I now have a church-full of "true friends", my addictions are under control, my depression is now manageable, I am more content with my life than I have ever been and I don't feel as if I am being judged anymore.
What if I had never taken that first step through the doors of MCCQC? I'm pretty sure that I would have been the one found on the bathroom floor. So please, take that first step through the doors of the Quad Cities "Human Rights Church" and you will see why MCC is the "Best Place To Meet People".
– from Dwain