Kevin hadn’t been part of a church community for years. For part of his life he wasn’t sure he could even be part of a church community.
But on December 18, 2016, he visited First Baptist Church of Indianapolis. A little more than an hour later, he was a member.
Kevin acknowledged, “I immediately felt really accepted. It was a wonderful place. I could tell God was saying ‘this is where I want you to be.’ I had been looking for a church community. I just felt that calling that day.”
When associate pastor Evan Bever gave the invitation at the end of the service, Kevin thought, “Yeah, let’s do it!” He went forward and joined the church. “I felt like I should do it now. It felt right. I felt God told me it was right.”
Although Kevin’s decision to join the church was impromptu, more than seven months later he’s even more certain about his decision. “I get a little teary when someone else goes forward because I remember what a neat experience it was for me,” he said.
The church has been everything he thought it to be. “People have never stopped being welcoming and friendly,” Kevin said. “I’ve been to places where they’re really friendly at first. Then it becomes ho-hum. Not here” at FBC Indy.
Kevin grew up Catholic but hadn’t attended church regularly for many years. “I’ve always felt connected to God. God was always important in my life, always there,” he said. But Kevin didn’t think he needed to be a part of a church. “It was just me communing with God on my own.”
Because he is gay, Kevin said there was “a period that I was very doubtful” about being accepted in churches because that’s what he heard expressed from many religious people. “I felt I was a good person but thought maybe God doesn’t accept me and love me.” That’s not how he wanted to feel but he said “sometimes you hear enough, and you read key verses” in the Bible that seem to say homosexuality is wrong “and I would think that’s probably what it means,” Kevin said.
That led to a time of doubt and darkness. “The most troubling thing is I knew I was never going to change and I didn’t want to change.” Even though he was trying be a good person in living kindness and compassion to others, he felt hopeless because of his sexual orientation.
Eventually, Kevin began to hear other religious voices that are affirming of LGBTQ people. “It is reassuring to have others who were very big believers and strong in the Christian community saying we love you and it’s OK, and it’s not wrong. I can feel good about myself and I know that God still wants me,” he said.
“God and Jesus Christ are about love, and caring for other people. Those are the most important things. Jesus said it himself. How could it be anything else?” he said.
Kevin is thankful that FBC Indy embraces and accepts him as a gay man who has been in a committed relationship with his partner, Matt, for 16 years.
Even better, Kevin loves “the diversity of the people (at FBC Indy) and how there are older members and younger ones of the different cultures. I watch them inter-mix every Sunday before and after the service. Wow, this is so cool.”
FBC Indy reminds Kevin of the diversity he experiences at Le Danse, the Indianapolis dance studio where he works as a ballroom dance instructor. “We are about a big family and being accepting of everybody, and I just love that,” he said. “We have a nice diverse family of dance people.”
Kevin believes it’s important to seek out diversity. “You can’t learn diversity if you don’t immerse yourself in it” and understand different people. “When I hear the Karen Baptist Church choir, I don’t necessarily understand the words, but I know that it’s beautiful and you can feel the worship in the song. I enjoy hearing that, and I think I might enjoy learning to speak and understand other languages.”
As a gay man at FBC Indy, Kevin hopes others see Christ’s love through him and realize that LGBTQ people in the church are “good people and believe the same way” even though they may have a different sexual orientation.
Kevin said, “I am so glad I made the decision” to become a member of FBC Indy. “It felt right. This is where I want to be for my service and commitment to God. I’m so happy I’m able to celebrate God with other people. And to do it with the diversity that’s in the church.
“I love this place. I have a spiritual home now and it’s really helped me in daily prayer and getting into reading the Bible. I don’t feel alone anymore in my belief and my sexuality when it comes to Christianity.”