Dumbarton UMC: Your Gay Friendly Church

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Dumbarton has, and always will be, a church for those in need. As a trans kid, I will always be happy to have him there for me.

Religion has always been a familiar subject, a comfortable pillar of my childhood. Although my mother and father have different religious backgrounds, they agreed to expose me to the faith, allow me to experience church attendance and weekly activities, but decided not to. baptize me until I can make the decision for myself.

My mother was raised Methodist, so I went with her to various Methodist churches in the area. But every few years, it seemed, we grew weary of the current church and moved on to a new place. It was church politics, maybe, or the change of pastors, or even just the feeling that something was missing. That even though we went to church, sang the hymns, and read the scriptures, it was more like going through the motions. So, after trying a few different churches, when I was about seven years old, we were invited to Dumbarton UMC to attend the baptism of a family friend’s daughter. My mother felt something about Dumbarton was special, and it deserved another visit. So we went back. It was one of the best choices we’ve ever made.

Sometimes with certain things you just know. There is a feeling of belonging, a little click, somewhere in the back of your mind, and everything seems to fall into place. For the past nine years we have attended Dumbarton, and we have never looked back. From the start, it was clear that this was the church for us. Because the one thing our various churches have always lacked has been community.

Community will always be important. No matter who you are, you will always seek connection and support from the people around you. And religion is a place to nurture that connection, to feel like you’re loved and loved by something greater than yourself, and that the act of loving is inherently holy. Churches, by virtue of creation, preserve the space for divinity to exist in the context of goodness. But many churches fall short of this ideal, although they don’t see it (or wish they didn’t see it). One way or another, one group or another finds itself excluded from a community, excluded from the simple fact of loving and being loved. Any person, any collective, will always find themselves flawed, but Dumbarton will always do their best to grow, learn and accept all people, with all the fierceness and warmth they have.

It is a congregation that takes responsibility to be Methodist in the fullest and most complete sense of the word. There is an active desire, an active choice, to care for each person who walks through the heavy lavender-colored doors, to the fullest of their ability. He’s not conditional, he doesn’t hesitate, and he’s certainly not shy. Dumbarton chooses, every day, to be a community, and to keep that community there, for all who need it. It’s a small church, but the members are doing all they can to learn, to understand, to be better and do better, and certainly to love.

As a child growing up in this church, Dumbarton loved me from age seven to 16. They loved me when I was baptized, promised to support me and feed me. When, at the age of 10, I decided that Christianity was not for me, I was continually welcomed with open arms. Over the years, I explored my own identity, and what better space to do so in a space that was not just accepting, but thrilled for me to ask questions, to learn more about myself. As an agnostic non-binary lesbian, the place where I’ve always been so totally accepted is where most people wouldn’t guess.

Navigating Christianity as a gay or trans person will always be difficult, and it can leave many struggling to find a church that truly feels like home. But Dumbarton UMC feels like a church that loves me for all that I am, and I think that’s all anyone could ask for.

Adam Michelman is a high school sophomore from Alexandria, Virginia, and this is their first contribution to the blade.

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