My Story, God's Story

Saran & Kevin

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We moved to Columbia in June 2014. Along with our four children, we quickly began visiting local Episcopal churches. After visiting about ten Episcopal churches over a year or two, we finally settled on a small church south of Columbia. Unfortunately, shortly after committing our family to attending this church regularly, the parish lost its priest and began to fall apart. Our hearts were a bit broken - we had finally found an Episcopal church that modelled our family values of diversity and acceptance …and it folded shortly after we joined! After months of simply not attending church at all, we ran across a Facebook posting of a sermon from Pastor Tim Bupp. We were impressed by his passion and decided to visit, even though we were not Lutheran nor had ever attended a Lutheran church service. 


Our first visit went quite well and we enjoyed meeting the congregation and speaking briefly with Pastor Tim. Shortly thereafter, we were shocked by an invitation for our family to come and have dinner with the Bupps at their home. Upon visiting with the Bupps and hearing about their values and beliefs and how that is expressed in their Lutheran faith, we were ready to go all in at Reformation. A couple of months later, our entire family joined the church officially and began to serve in the parish in a variety of capacities.


We are happy and proud to call Reformation our home.

Mary

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Hi, I’m Mary, mom of three, and a former Southern Baptist.


The first time I attended Reformation was in 2012 when a friend invited my family and me to a special event.  I was very impressed by the acceptance and loving-kindness of the church, and in particular the diversity of the children’s program.


In 2015, we lost our home to the floods that devastated the state. In a six-month period, we had five different homes. Finally, we settled into Blythewood and wanted to find a local place to worship with our new neighbors. We tried various area churches, but none seemed like “home” to us. One Sunday morning, I had an intense dream directing me to visit Reformation again. I woke up and thought, “Why not?”  


We were welcomed warmly, there was a good feel about the church, and the kids made fast friends. Because I want to raise my children in an environment where they feel loved, absolutely, and unconditionally, we decided to stay! My children are multiethnic and visually impaired. At Reformation, there are kids all shades of the rainbow. The congregation reflects the beautiful diversity of life. 


We love the congregation’s inclusivity, its commitment to transparency and justice, and the fellowship that extends out beyond the walls of the church building, beyond Sunday morning.  In our Reformation family, we have lots of laughing, lots of love -- Fellowship in the truest sense of the word.

Mike & Bryan

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I (Mike) was raised in the Catholic church and attended private Catholic school from grades K through 12. As soon as I graduated I fled the church for fear or them finding out I was gay. It wasn’t until many years later, shortly after my partner of 15 years passed away, that I started searching for a place to worship, a place where I would be accepted for who I really am. Needing the help and support from a community based in the teachings of Jesus Christ, I found all of the people at Reformation Lutheran to be very welcoming from my very first visit. What I didn’t expect was the affirmation of who I am as a gay child of God. I soon discovered that I was not simply being tolerated and there would be no push to change who I am in order take part in a full relationship with God and with community. At Reformation, I am celebrated and encouraged to participate fully in the life and sacraments of the church. This place is my home and these people are my loving family.


I (Bryan, a recovering Baptist) was raised in mega church and realized as a teenager, I didn’t hear the message of Christ in vitriol preached as gospel against the LGBT community. During the following thirty years away from the church, I never lost my faith – just a place to worship. Neighbors invited me to visit Reformation where, on the first visit, I was greeted by an older member who shook my hand, looked me directly in the eye and said, “I’m so glad you’re here.” Wow! Did he really mean that? In fact, he, and the entire church really did. I was suddenly surrounding by fellow Christians who loved - not just tolerated - me just the way I am, and welcomed me to participate in every aspect of the church.


Bryan and Mike met soon after they began attending Reformation. Two years later, they married at the church surrounded by family and friends and began a journey together of worshiping and serving in the many ministries within the church.

Jamie

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I’m convinced that God used a heavily tattooed, reformed alcoholic and drug addict–turned Christian author and ordained minister—and Google . . . God used Google . . . to get me to this place of worship.


I missed church. I missed the worship, fellowship, and community. I especially missed the music. Since childhood, church had always been an integral part of my life; but, having not attended for more than a decade, I was longing for a church home. I visited a few churches but nothing clicked for me.


A few years ago, after reading Nadia Bolz-Weber’s books, I thought that if I could find a church like hers in Columbia, I know I’d show up! I entered a few words on my computer search engine, and Reformation Lutheran Church was first on the list. I showed up the following Sunday. 


I invite you to join us! RLC is what church should be—loving, welcoming, and affirming to all peoples. I am aware of God’s spirit at every service, and I am grateful. I thank God for Nadia Bolz-Weber, and for Google.


I thank God for Reformation Lutheran Church.




Josue'


 I moved to South Carolina from Puerto Rico in May 2014. In my country I had been very active in the Catholic Church. When I moved, I started visiting the Baptist church my aunt and uncle were members of. I knew I was in non-LGBT friendly territory, but I practiced the “Don't Ask, Don't Tell” policy. Everything was fine until one Sunday from the pulpit, the pastor condemned the country for its acceptance of homosexuality. That was my last Sunday at that church! After that, I visited other "welcoming" churches nearby but they were challenged in the welcoming part.  


I had read about Reformation Lutheran online, but I had no idea what they were about. In my entire life, I had only met one Lutheran person and she was the weirdest person I had met, so I wasn't brave enough to try that religion.  


However, on Pride day that year, I was walking up and down the festival grounds with a friend and we stopped by Reformation's booth because they were giving out candy. At the booth two members gave us a flyer about a welcoming service and lunch the next Sunday assuring us, “You should come visit us, we'll love you!" And that they did!  


It was very refreshing to be welcomed to worship with them, and to participate in communion, which I had been denied for many years. Even after four years as a member of this church, I still cry during communion. It means so much to me that we're not only welcomed here, but also invited to the Lord’s Table to be nourished body and soul. 

Ronn & Tim

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Tim: Let me start by saying God has blessed us every day! Ronn and I have been in a committed relationship for 19 years and we now have a wonderful son. We haven’t always been involved in a church but we’ve learned that God always has plans of his own for us. I’ve

been in the church since I was a little boy. As most gay people find out, when you start to be honest with yourself and open that closet door, most Christians will turn their backs on you. This happened to me, so church became something I avoided at all cost. I still believed in God but not in his people. I’m guessing this might sound familiar to some.


Ronn: I grew up going back and forth between my Mom’s Baptist church and my Step-Dad’s Methodist church until I was old enough to stay home by myself - and I chose to do that. As a teen and again in my early 20’s, I tried at least three other church denominations before I met Tim in 1998. We started life together as a couple in 1999. 


Tim: In 2008, I had an offer from my company to move from Maryland to Illinois. When we got there, we knew no one, so, it was Ronn and me. I was fine with that, but Ronn had the need for community. He didn’t actively look for a church knowing my background, but God had a plan. While I’m not sure I agree with His methods, it worked. My back went out. I saw several

doctors, and then Ronn took me to a pain specialist. In the examining room, I was crying in pain, and Ronn and the Nurse talked about the church she and her wife attend. So through my

pain, we found our first loving and open church. This was also the church where God gave us our son Marshall, through word of mouth, a blessing from his birth from a very loving and giving young lady.


As Marshall got older, we started looking for a church that was closer to home with a strong youth group. This led us to our second church. At this church we were the only gay couple, for

that matter, the only gays in the church. Before we joined we met with the pastor to find out more about the church. We asked him how his church felt about us joining. He stated that the senior members didn’t really understand our relationship but God had taught them to love their neighbors as themselves. This was something they not only preached but followed. Our family was no different than any other family. We had found there a sense of community -- a

family, that accepted us with no strings.

At this point you might be asking, “So, why did you leave?” Either one of us would answer that by saying that God moved us to Illinois to open hearts and minds, and for us to learn there are

good loving Christians in the world and now it was time for us to move on. In 2015, the company I worked for was sold and the new company moved us to South Carolina. Our adventure continued. In South Carolina, we tried a Lutheran church a few blocks away from us, but didn’t feel very welcome or accepted. Except for the Pastor, a nice lady on the Congregation Council, and a great family we managed to sit in front of both times we went, NO ONE spoke to us. People only stared and pointed in our direction.


That prompted us to go online to search for other open and accepting churches, and that’s how we found Reformation Lutheran Church in Columbia. This church has become our family here in

S.C. At Reformation, everyone is welcomed in this place. To be welcomed and fully included in all aspects of the church from our first day there has been so refreshing. It’s church, but it’s

family too. Everyone is encouraged to get more involved with worship -- including having the kids participating in Children’s Chatter with Pastor Tim, or lighting the candles in the chancel before service, or carrying the cross into the service. Adults can be a part of the praise band or the choir, serve on the Congregation Council or one of the committees. Bible studies and small groups also include a great mix of people and shared experiences, and fellowship inside and outside of the church is always fun too! We feel blessed to be living out God’s plan today as members of Reformation Lutheran Church.