The email went out this afternoon. Although I’ve known for over a month, I was not free to talk about it publicly until now. After four years as the associate transitional kindergarten teacher at Sonoma Country Day School, I’ll be moving on to something new. Here’s what our Head of School, Brad Weaver, shared with our school community:

We are taking a new approach to how we staff our Transitional Kindergarten program, moving from a lead teacher/associate model to a co-lead one. Given the age of our TK students and the care and attention they require, we know this will be the right model for a more sustainable future. As a result, our current TK associate, Matt Nightingale, will depart at the end of the year. Matt has been with us for four years, and in addition to supporting Michele Ferretti in TK, he has served previously as a music teacher and the director of our glee club, which of course had to take a break during the pandemic. Matt plans to focus his energy on his nonprofit Common Sanctuary and his own ministry. Please join us in wishing Matt all the best in his new endeavors!

I’ll always be grateful for my time with SCDS. I actually started as a substitute teacher in the fall of 2016 and then was asked to be be the long-term sub for 4th & 5th grade math when that teacher went on maternity leave in March 2017. Later that spring I was hired to be the associate teacher in the brand-new transitional kindergarten program, working with Michele Ferretti.

Can I pause for a moment and talk about how much I love Michele Ferretti? Honestly, it’s hard to even know where to begin. I’ll just say this: Michele has become one of my dearest friends, and I’ll always treasure these years together, surrounded by our precious 4- and 5-year old companions.

SCDS has been such a loving and nurturing community for me, one of the first spaces where I could truly be myself. At SCDS, my faith and my sexuality were not things to be hidden, but identities to be embraced and celebrated. Just last week, as our Social Emotional Learning teacher led the entire school through “Inclusion and Belonging Week,” every student and teacher wrote “I Am” statement and read them together in our classrooms. It was a powerful reminder that, at SCDS, we can be authentically ourselves and that everyone belongs.

I’m sure no one reading this post will be surprised to find out that I have a very full life OUTSIDE of Sonoma Country Day School as well. In addition to teaching full-time, I’m one of the co-pastors of my wonderful church, The Quest. I am also a certified spiritual director, and I see individual clients and lead support groups with The Christian Closet. I’m on the board of The Journey Center here in Santa Rosa, and I lead weekly contemplative spirituality groups, one for LGBTQ+ folks and one for anyone! As a gay Christian, I am passionate about the intersection of sexuality and spirituality, and I have been working for five years now to create safe, sacred spaces for people exploring these identities.

I don’t think it’s a coincidence that the TEDx talk I gave with my former wife, Luanne Nightingale, Experiencing Gratitude and Hope, was presented and filmed at SCDS’s very own Jackson Theater. It’s been viewed nearly 34K times since then, and I continue to be amazed and grateful for the powerful ways God has used it.

So, while the timing of this transition was not my plan, I’ve been able to step back and see the bigger picture. I truly believe that God is in this, that this is actually a blessing in disguise. Apparently this is what I needed to step into the next leg of my journey.

Introducing Common Sanctuary. I’ve been talking about it more and more on social media, and I’m so excited to share it with the world. In the last few weeks, with the help of some wonderfully supportive friends and partners, I’ve launched our website and social media, scheduled our local launch party, and begun to invite people into this mission with me:

Common Sanctuary creates safe, sacred space and welcomes diverse voices and perspectives into healthy conversations around faith and sexuality

The need is huge. Every single day I hear from LGBTQ+ people who are longing to connect (or re-connect) with their faith AND from Christians who know they need to grow in their understanding and affirmation of LGBTQ+ identities and relationships. I’m trusting that God has me in the right place at the right time.

I’ll be sharing so much more in the weeks and months to come. But for now, I invite you to come along for the adventure in whatever way feels right for you. You can start by signing up for my mailing list, attending the Common Sanctuary launch party in Santa Rosa on June 19, following our Facebook, Twitter or Instagram accounts, or making a tax-deductible donation.

Transitions are not always easy, but I believe that God is in them. I’m full of anticipation for what’s next, and I’m grateful for your friendship and support as I keep walking this road. Here we go!