April 2018

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

DAR #29: Genesis

DAR #29: The Southern Baptist church where I grew up comprised an eclectic congregation of hippie Southern Baptists, professors from local colleges and universities, artists and young parents like mine who wanted to attend a church more liberal than they were. We were as likely to sing Bob Dylan’s “Blowin’ in the Wind” as any hymn and to read The Velveteen Rabbit as any Bible stories. The church took a stand against the Vietnam War and had a sister church, a storehouse church with a primarily black congregation. Today they also have a sister church in Cuba.

After I graduated, the church tussled with questions of rightness and then decided to ask the minister to perform a gay union ceremony. That was too far. The church was expelled from the Southern Baptist Convention and is now an American Baptist Church. Today, the church has two ministers: a straight man whose intellectual sermons would make many more traditional church-goers cringe and a lesbian who, just by being both a woman and a gay person, makes those same folks cringe.

It is, and always has been, a lively place of spiritual quest, passion for social justice, community. As many Southern churches are, it’s large with a downstairs sanctuary that seats maybe four hundred and three upstairs balconies where my friend Ande and I sat so that we could slip out when things got boring and go to the local park to swing on the swings. We always wore our bell-bottom blue jeans with peace sign patches to church, so we were appropriately dressed for both church and the park.

For such a large place, the sanctuary feels intimate. There are rich stained glass windows and hues of gold, purple and blue that make it seem—somehow—cozier. If you go there today, my dad will probably be sitting on the right as you enter, in the fourth row, behind the Corrells, and my mom will be the one who hits the high note in the choir

I didn’t realize the church was so unusual until I tried to find a home church in Dallas. I assumed Dallas churches would be similar to the church in which I had grown up, but with different people. I visited 17 churches and the closest I found was a Universalist congregation that met in a very brown room. It felt more like college than church, so I gave up on it.

Now Ann and I are part of a Methodist congregation, much smaller but in many respects similar to my first congregation. This congregation, at the forefront of the move to “reconcile” with GLBTQ persons, supports us as a couple and has been a tremendous support throughout our time with my tumors. I am guessing that they are praying for us today as we go to find out if this radiation has been successful and that they will be there for us no matter what comes next.

Feeling grateful and anxious to know the MRI report. I’ll let you know what we learn. Mary


  1. Mary, I love your description of Pullen. I have such happy memories of growing up in that congregation. Thanks for putting into words my feelings about it. I'm thinking about you!

  2. Warm thoughts out your way.


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