Two-and-a-half years ago I uttered the sentence, I need to start a church. As a devout Christian and church devotee, I believed (and still do), the Church is the extension of Jesus into our communities. I believe the Church’s work is essential - to provide relief, hope, and healing to each and every traveler on their spiritual and physical journey.
But what I found, in my neck of the woods, was a missing piece. We have these remarkable megachurches, with fabulous productions, and while everyone is welcome, not everyone is celebrated or allowed to serve according to their God-given giftedness.
I knew our community needed a space where all are welcome, celebrated, loved and included.
I met Paula Williams soon after the I need to start a church was uttered. Paula used to preach frequently at my former church when she was known as Paul. With a career as a successful church planter, I reached out, hoping she would point me in the right direction. In response to my prompting about starting an open and affirming congregation, she said No! Taken aback, I nodded and listened. She continued, Planting a church will suck your soul. So, there it is. I left it alone, believing she knew best... sort of. We became good and fast friends.
I, with my family and Paula, began attending Highlands Church, a Denver-based progressive congregation. We were all a bit bloody and beaten, but we knew if there was a shot at church as it was designed, this was it. Walking into Highlands, my stomach settled. I breathed in the beauty, drank from the stream - This! This is what I was dreaming for, longing for. This is where I could heal, recover, rest and renew. This is what I wanted in my community. Joy, tears, love, laughter are the best kind of real for a Sunday morning.
After a year in attendance, Paula re-discovered her desire to do the soul-sucking work. And I too, knew the call placed upon me. I am pleased to say, through Highlands Church, we are planting a church for Boulder County in early 2018.
Last summer, Aaron Bailey, a regular attender of Highlands, sidled himself up to our cause. He experienced his own calling and I rejoiced. I love Aaron. I love Paula.
One of the hallmarks of Highlands Church is the practice of egalitarian, Trinitarian leadership. No single pastor dominates the pulpit, instead our church will be staffed with three or more pastors, as the Trinity - God, Jesus, Holy Spirit. Each leader, just as each member of the Trinity, divests and receives power. No one is more important than another. No one does better work than another. Each person’s gifts and contributions are honored and compensated equally.
We too, are a Trinitarian-inspired church. Paula, Aaron, and I are three of the pastors.
While my vision of starting a church was nebulous those months ago, one thing I knew for certain - I want a church characterized by the love of Jesus, the beauty of father/mother God, the indwelling tenderness of the Holy Spirit. I want to grow together in in the work of compassion and justice, living loved.