I was baptized in a little white church with blood red carpet.
At 5 years old, I was scared of water splashing in my face so our pastor let me take a practice swim in the warm baptistry water on the Saturday night before my baptism.
On Sunday morning we sang a hymn that began, “I’m so glad I’m a part of the family of God,” and I really was.
I lisped “Away in a Manger” with the children’s choir and learned about a Jesus who loved and expected the same of me.
At our Wednesday night Girls in Action meetings, I learned how Jesus used special people called missionaries to take care of people all around the world.
At 7 years old, I faced my first crisis of faith.
A single mom in our community was supporting her two young daughters with money she made cleaning our church building.
Some leaders in the church accused her of taking rolls of toilet paper home with her at the end of her cleaning shifts. The rumors spread, and she was fired.
The same people who taught me Bible verses about the “least of these” left a struggling family with no hope (and no toilet paper).
The injustice I observed sparked questions I still haven’t answered. I began singing a version of my baptismal hymn that lamented, “I’m apart from the family of God.”
Eventually, my family moved to a nearby green-carpeted Baptist church, where I learned how Jesus called all of us to be missionaries, loving the neighbors in our hometown, bordering states and at a sister church in Ciudad Acuña, Mexico.
My youth group spent spring breaks, summers and winter breaks traveling to learn from and serve vulnerable populations.
When our youth minister challenged us to look for places to serve our own tiny town, we built a relationship with the community living in our local public housing.
Focusing on people who didn’t look or live like me shaped my teenage faith and made me feel less apart from God’s family.
Through college and early married life, my husband and I served in churches while he attended seminary. We experienced all the beauty and horror of church leadership.
While we met shining examples of God’s love and grew up and together through the trials of ministry, the constant criticism, expectations of perfection, lack of support and absence of empathy from congregants and fellow leadership rattled my faith to its core.
We stayed up late at night asking questions about injustice and how to empower the voices of vulnerable people. I continued to wonder if I would ever truly feel part of the family of God again.
Eventually, we moved away from vocational ministry. My husband attended law school and is now an attorney. Ironically, he finds it much kinder and gentler than church work.
We joined a wonderful Cooperative Baptist Fellowship church, where we felt safe growing our little but quickly expanding family. I found a career in higher education.
For the past eight years, I worked with the best and brightest prospective law students.
As director of admissions, I empowered applicants from every spectrum of our beautiful nation to navigate successfully the law school admission process.
One by one, they sat in my office and shared giant dreams of how they planned to use their law degrees to change the world. I watched them do it. Their passion was contagious.
When I learned Johnny Pierce and Mitch Randall were combining the important work of Nurturing Faith and EthicsDaily to form Good Faith Media, I knew I had to be part of it.
Their respective missions and new vision for Good Faith Media synthesized the questions I’ve been asking for the past 30 years.
- How can we love Jesus and exclude “the other”?
- How can we politely stand by as vulnerable populations are ignored, violated and exploited?
- Where in the world is the family of God in the boastful, superlative-laden jargon we hear these days from prevalent faith voices?
Good Faith Media holds space for the other.
Good Faith Media speaks truth to injustice.
Good Faith Media stands for the faithful who feel lost because of their convictions.
Through our four offerings: news and opinion, video and podcasts, print publications and transformative experiences, Good Faith Media is committed to providing a much-needed voice in the wilderness.
As Good Faith Media’s first official joint hire, I’m thrilled to work alongside the Nurturing Faith and EthicsDaily teams as executive director of marketing and development as we continue the good work and invite more of the faithful to join us.
I look forward to serving alongside you. Together, we can further the mission of Good Faith Media to provide reflection and resources at the intersection of faith and culture through an inclusive Christian lens.
Truly, I’m so glad we’re a part of the family of God.
Editor’s note: This article first appeared in the May-June 2020 edition of Nurturing Faith Journal, a Good Faith Media publication. Learn more about the journal and how to subscribe here.