Last year at this time, I was in Fort Lauderdale for my first Q Christian Fellowship conference. I spent several hours writing a “2019 in Review” post, and it turned out to be a beautiful opportunity for reflection and gratitude. We had no idea what was right around the corner, did we? 2020 has been a dumpster fire of a year in so many ways, but a lot of wonderful things have happened too. Both can be true.
I’m always grateful for this time of year, for a chance to look back, to reflect on the events of the year. Nothing like a trip through your Instagram to bring it all back. Join me?
- I had the privilege of attending the Q Christian Fellowship conference in Fort Lauderdale, Florida. I performed some original songs for Q Night Live and helped lead workshops with wonderful friends and colleagues like Candice Czubernat, Austen Hartke and Laura Beth Buchleiter.
- We celebrated my son Jacob’s 22nd birthday.
- I was invited to be on Sonoma Country Day School‘s Diversity, Equity and Inclusion task force.
- I attended an incredibly moving open mic night with my friend Bobby Jo Valentine put on by an amazing nonprofit organization called You’re Going To Die.
- I cheered as my son Zachary competed in Santa Rosa High School’s “Mr. Panther” competition and won first runner up.
- I attended the Journey Center Association‘s annual dinner and saw my friend and spiritual director, Eva Sullivan-Knoff. She is the Executive Director of the Journey Center of Chicago, and she has been incredibly instrumental in my ongoing journey. I wrote about our relationship for my blog.
- I was featured on Betsy Graziani Fasbinder‘s Morning Glory Project Podcast.
- I started my fourth support group for gay men in mixed-orientation marriages for The Christian Closet, and I blogged about it here.
- My brother Micah visited from Indiana. He helped lead worship at my church, The Quest, and we saw Hamilton together in San Francisco.
- On March 14, my son Joshua married his longtime partner, Ray, in a small family ceremony in Guerneville. I was privileged to officiate, and it was a really special weekend together, right before everything changed.
- On March 15, The Quest quickly pivoted to an online format. On that first Sunday, my co-pastor Tony and I welcomed our friend, author Cara Meredith to preach on Zoom and stream live on Facebook. We’ve been online ever since.
- On March 17, my teaching partner, Michele, and I started teaching our transitional kindergarten class remotely.
- On March 23, my beloved LGBTQ+ Spiritual Conversations group started meeting through Zoom, and we’ve been online ever since, reaching spiritually-minded queer people from all over the United States every two weeks. We’d love for you to join us sometime! Register here.
- I launched my first “2.0” support group for men who had already been through my “first level” support group with The Christian Closet. I was excited to welcome special guest speakers Trey Pearson, Alan Manning Chambers and Robb Kornoelje.
- We celebrated Easter online with The Quest.
- I appeared in the video for Tash Holmes‘s song “My Heart in Your Hands.”
- I was the guest speaker for one of Adam Evers‘s Believr App meetups.
- I was the featured artist for one of QCF’s online Q Night Live concerts. I played an hour of original music and worship songs with my daughter Emily on guitar and vocals and my son Jacob on percussion and vocals. Watch the video here!
- My friend Aaron Bailey (of Launchpad Partners and With Collective) and I started hosting Single Gay Clergy meetups every two weeks. We have grown into a really loving, tight-knit community, and I’m so grateful for these guys. Two of us have even found more than friendship!
- My son Josh and my (now) daughter-in-law Kajsa graduated (virtually) from Oklahoma State University and North Park University.
- I was featured on Charneil Bush’s I’m Praying for Y’all podcast.
- Tony and I had a great conversation about racial justice with Andre Henry and Rev. Yolanda Norton (founder of the Beyoncé Mass) for The Quest’s Up Close and Personal interview series. Watch the video here!
- We celebrated Joshua’s and Ray’s 25th birthdays.
- I wrote about Donald Trump’s profane photo-op.
- I was featured on my good friend Tim Dillinger‘s “Have You Ever Heard” series. We had so much fun talking about Teri DeSario‘s Christian albums “A Call To Us All” and “Voices in the Wind.” Watch the video here!
- Tony and I “swapped pulpits” (virtually, of course) with Rev. Josh Lee of Imago Dei Church in Peoria, Illinois.
- My twins, Emily and Zachary, graduated (virtually and in a drive-through ceremony) from Santa Rosa High School.
- I was featured on Matthew Redrich’s podcast Create Sacred Places.
- I had a significant first date on Zoom.
- I had the privilege of participating for the third year in a row in The Vine’s Sister Act Sing-Along Pride Mass. Watch the video here!
- I was the guest speaker at a bible study group for Latin American LGBTQ+ Christians.
- I was featured on Cara Meredith’s Facebook Live. We had a great Pride-themed conversation. Watch the video here!
- I was featured on Dr. Robyn Henderson-Espinoza and Anna Golladay‘s Activist Theology podcast.
- I was featured on my friend Nathan Albert‘s The Why Behind the What podcast.
- I was featured on a Facebook Live conversation about Queerness and the Church for The Journey Center of Chicago.
- We started our first Zoom book study for The Quest, reading and studying “I’m Still Here: Black Dignity in a World made for Whiteness” by Austin Channing Brown.
- The “significant first date on Zoom” turned into an in-person visit and a decision to enter a dating relationship.
- I was featured on the Shipwreck Over Safety podcast.
- I was featured in another Facebook Live conversation for The Journey Center of Chicago, this time about spiritual pain vs. religious pain. Watch the video here!
- I started my fourth year teaching transitional kindergarten at Sonoma Country Day School.
- I enjoyed a lot of good, health-conscious cooking and beautiful hikes.
- The Journey Center of Santa Rosa board of directors said goodbye to our physical home of 13 years and transitioned to an all-online format.
- On September 12, my son Jacob married his longtime girlfriend Kajsa. I was blessed to be able to officiate the wedding with my friend and father of the bride, Corey Johnsrud. It was much smaller than we had originally envisioned it, just immediate family and bridal party. But grandparents and extended family Zoomed in, and we spent a beautiful evening together feasting and drinking and dancing and celebrating.
- We celebrated Emily and Zachary’s 19th birthday.
- My landlords completed the bathroom remodeling project in my apartment, so I bought a stackable washer/dryer unit to go with the shiny new shower and new appliance hookups. If you’ve ever spent years doing your laundry in laundromats and/or friends’ houses, you know what an upgrade this was. It deserves to be on this end-of-year list because of the vast improvement it’s made in my life.
- I was featured on Rev. Sophie Whitmarsh‘s podcast, Sackcloth and Coffee.
- Q Christian Fellowship shared the video from the panel discussion on spiritual and mental health I was on back in January. Watch it here!
- For the fourth year in a row, Sonoma County was afflicted by wildfires. School was disrupted, and many people were displaced for weeks. But thank God my friends, family and I were safe.
- Although it was still not safe to resume in-person worship gatherings at The Quest, we started recording worship songs with the band, masked and separated by barriers, and playing these recordings in our online worship services on Sundays. It was a bright spot, a little shot of hope in the middle of a bleak season that has gone on for far longer than any of us expected.
- The Quest hosted another Zoom book study, this time with the book The Color of Life: A Journey Toward Love and Racial Justice led by the author herself, Cara Meredith.
- Tim Dillinger invited me to have another conversation, this time about Amy Grant’s classic “Unguarded.” Watch the video here.
- I voted by mail for Joe Biden and Kamala Harris.
- I changed my Facebook relationship status to “In a Relationship,” not expecting it to create a post and broadcast into my friend’s feeds!
- My boyfriend and I were able to spend an afternoon in Berkeley and visit (outdoors, masked up) with our friends Sharon DeGraw and Annie & Victoria Steinberg-Behrman. It was so good to be with friends again.
- My friend Jaime visited from Los Angeles, and it was a wonderful treat to see someone in person!
- Michele and I went all-out in our Halloween celebration at school. The kids were certainly wowed, and we had a wonderful day with them!
- Somewhere in October, I managed to reach my goal of 5,000 followers on Twitter. If you’re not one of them, come and join the conversation! Twitter is my favorite of all the social media, and I love the community I’ve found there.
- I phone banked for the first time in my life, calling registered Democrats in Pennsylvania and encouraging them to get out and vote for Biden and Harris.
- Like the rest of the world, I waited on pins and needles to hear the news about Biden/Harris’s victory. I wept with relief and joy at their speeches on the Saturday night it was called. Now if we can only get to January 20.
- We celebrated Kajsa’s 23rd birthday.
- Sadly, we had to move our church’s annual Thanksgiving celebration feast to an online format, but it turned out to be a meaningful, intimate time together. God is always able to bring good out of our disappointments.
- My boyfriend and I were able to have lunch with Cara Meredith in Sonoma. Again, it was so, so good to see a friend NOT on a screen.
- I was able to spend Thanksgiving with my boyfriend and my family, and it was so meaningful.
- After a nine-month bout of writer’s block, I finally got back to my blog, posting about identity, Advent and not losing heart in the hard but worthwhile work of ministry.
- Tony and I welcomed Rev. Mandy McDow, senior minister of Los Angeles First United Methodist Church, for a powerful “Up Close and Personal” conversation about church, inclusion, and outside-the-box ministry. Watch our conversation here!
- Alas, we had to cancel plans for our first in-person worship gathering on December 13, but we did the next best thing, broadcasting live from the building in Novato while still producing the worship service for an online-only audience. We are excited to be “back” in this “next best” way until it’s safe to meet in person again. As I say on Twitter every Sunday, “You don’t have to worship where you’re not wanted.” If you’d like to worship with a church that believes #BlackLivesMatter, that celebrates LGBTQ+ identities and relationship as sacred and that acknowledges the gifts and callings of all genders for all levels of leadership, please join us some Sunday at 10am PT/noon CT/1pm ET. You can find us live on our Facebook Page or on YouTube. And please follow us on all the socials! We have changed our name to reflect the reality of our “not just Novato” church family, so look for us @ We Are The Quest.
- I am so thankful for the ways that God is growing my spiritual direction practice. I have clients who come to me through The Christian Closet or The Journey Center, or simply from encountering me on social media. It’s such a privilege to meet with folks monthly, to bear witness to the good things God is doing in their lives.
- It was wonderful to celebrate my first Christmas with my boyfriend. We’ve been together six months now, and things are really good. I’m grateful to have found a good man who loves Jesus and is committed to a life of ministry like I am. He makes me a better man and a better Christian, and I’m so grateful.
Last year, I ended my year-end review by listing all the live theater and concerts I had enjoyed. A few years back I started a list on my phone. Who knew 2020 would turn out like this? But here’s to a new year and to the hope of gathering again to enjoy and support the arts.
As I close, I want to thank you for reading and for being a supportive presence in my life. Writing this post took way longer than I had planned, but it was such a good thing for me to see that even during this painful season of dashed hopes and crushed expectations, God is able to do immeasurably more than all we can ask or imagine. Thanks be to God for all that has been, and may 2021 be a much brighter year. I know tomorrow is just another day, but as @KhristiLauren said today on Twitter: “If something as mundane as the turn of a calendar year provides hope, then let the people hope.” Let the people hope. Amen and amen.