Last weekend we performed my show for the first time in a CHURCH! First Baptist Church of Denver’s minister, Rev. Brian Henderson, invited his congregation and I invited the secular community, and we had a wonderful mix of people in the audience.
We asked audience members to stick around after both performances for a Speakeasy. We broke into small groups, and over a glass of wine responded to thoughtful questions posed by facilitators.
We shared our religious (or nonreligious) upbringing and discussed what we believed now. Some people had similar religious childhoods to me, and related to specific scenes in the show. Others didn’t identify at all with my experiences, having been raised in a different faith or no faith.
Finding Our Community by Telling Our Stories
At one point, I stood off from the tables and took it all in — Christians and Atheists, gays and straights, urbanites and ruralites, young and old, and everyone in between — sitting down with one another and talking about the most divisive topic in our country today: religion. And there were no raised voices or pounding fists!
Everyone kindly listened to one another. That made it possible for people to talk about their beliefs without feeling like they had to justify or defend them.
I was struck by how we are all looking for a place to belong, a place where we feel safe and loved.
One woman who felt disenfranchised from her Christian upbringing hadn’t been to church in 25 years. Discovering Rev. Brian’s commitment to creating a progressive congregation inspired her to attend his worship service the following Sunday. She also signed up to volunteer with the homeless women’s shelter that FBCD helps run.
Another woman grew up Atheist and admitted to feeling a little lonely and disconnected. (Sometimes we don’t receive the warmest reception when we announce our nonbeliever status.) I introduced her to Kimberly Saviano of The Secular Hub, who assured her a supportive community awaits, and invited her to their next Sunday Coffee and Conversation gathering.
Humanity’s Evolution Depends on Us
I believe strongly that humanity’s evolution depends on people coming together around our shared value – LOVE! To that end, I believe Atheists/Agnostics/Humanists/Freethinkers like myself need to support faith communities like Rev. Brian’s that are pushing Christianity to evolve.
Mike and I love collaboration, and are grateful for the following people’s support in bringing our show back to Denver:
Charlotte Million, who originally introduced us to Rev. Brian and had the idea to bring us together. She also helped pitch our story to the local media, facilitated the small group discussion Saturday, and fed and housed us all weekend.
Rev. Brian Henderson of First Baptist Church, who hosted our show, got the word out to the local faith and gay communities, and just plain made us feel welcome.
Rev. Diana Flahive of Capitol Hill United Ministries, for organizing and facilitating the small group discussions after the show.
Kimberly Saviano of The Secular Hub, for getting the word out to the Atheist community in Denver, and for representing freethinkers during our post-show group discussions. We look forward to performing at The Secular Hub soon.
And most importantly, huge thanks to all the audience members who came to the show, and a special thanks to those of you who stuck around afterward to talk.