On Sunday, September 15, Paul Sanchez will be baptized. In our baptismal liturgy, we will welcome him, the newly baptized, saying:
We welcome you into the body of Christ and the mission we share:
join us in giving thanks and praise to God
and bearing God’s creative and redeeming word to all the world.
But this time, it feels like our roles are reversed. Even before his baptism, Paul is inviting and welcoming family and friends to Zion. In giving thanks and praise to God, he has enhanced our worship by including “The One Voice Community Choir” to sing in the worship. He has helped me to look anew at our baptized community of faith through the lens of joy. I asked Paul to share a comment about baptism for this article. Instead, he sent this beautiful confession of faith:
“As an openly gay man, the journey back to Church came with some serious hesitation. Some might argue that because of my sexuality I have no business attending Zion, or any other credible religious institution. But I had come to a point in my life where I needed, even craved change, and I felt the only impactful place to do that would be in a Church setting.
A quick Google search led me to a few other Churches in the valley, but when I came across Zion’s message of inclusiveness I felt like this could be the right place for me. Zion has made me feel valued as a person, and what I've learned on Sundays at Church has spilled over to daily scripture study and prayer throughout the week. Which in turn has allowed me to become a better version of myself that allows me to treat myself, and others better.
Because of this newfound joy and purpose in my life, there have been many transformative daily miracles in my life. I am now more at peace, I am calmer, my anxiety levels have dropped, I feel safe and protected, and am a much happier and content person. There was a deep-seated level of worthlessness that has all but disappeared. I feel connected to the source of abundance that I have never experienced before. Professing love and appreciation for the teachings of Christ isn't any-thing I expected to be doing in this lifetime... especially for someone with my background.
The impact of what is happening at Zion is truly remarkable, and something I didn't expect to see in my lifetime from any Religious Institution…when Pastor Steve says all are welcome he means it by his words and actions. I hope that others in my community, circle of friends and family are open to hear the words of hope I am gifted daily. I am excited to share with others that there is a safe place regardless of your sexual orientation where you can be lovingly welcomed in a community of faith in Jesus Christ.
Thank you so much for setting the stage where I would want to become baptized, for creating an environment where I can connect with God, and for the opportunity to join a Church that promotes messages of tolerance and acceptance. I thank God daily for Zion Lutheran Church.”
Paul, it is my privilege to be your pastor, even as it is my highest privilege to serve as the Pastor of Zion Evangelical Lutheran Church.
In and through Christ,
Write something about yourself. No need to be fancy, just an overview.