I am a senior at Indiana University studying voice performance at the Jacobs School of Music.? The way I like to think of myself is this:? I?m a son, brother, friend, performer, and in general, just a normal college student.? But there is one thing about me which in the past has made me feel different: I?m gay.

I was born and raised in the Catholic Church and while it is a beautiful, traditional service, I never felt completely comfortable there.? Surprisingly, the Catholic stance on homosexuality is not really that harsh.? I certainly never felt hated, but looked down upon, absolutely.? Once in college, I stopped going to church altogether.? I felt like I didn?t want to be a part of a community that did not understand or support me.? So, I just let religion take the back burner in my life.? I felt like I had time to figure it out later.

Over the summer, a friend of mine who sings regularly at First United asked if I would be willing to take his place while he was gone for the summer.? I admit that I was skeptical at first.? Even though I didn?t feel at home in the Catholic Church, I was not comfortable jumping ship for another Christian religion.? Hesitantly, I agreed to cover for him and started going to services every week.? I figured, if I am here, I might as well listen and see if they have anything good to say?and then, after a few weeks I started to notice a trend.? I was having especially nice Sundays and I found myself leaving church with positive messages from each sermon resonating in me.? I thought surely this church must be too good to be true, and decided to speak with Rev. Caela.? I interviewed her about the church, and the faith, and all of their beliefs and opinions, searching for something that we did not have in common.? However, I never found it.

Never before have I gone into a church with this sort of a welcoming environment.? Lots of churches these days claim to be ?inclusive? but in some way lack full open mindedness.? First United has changed my life.? The church is fully committed to accepting anyone, regardless of race, gender, nationality, religion, sexual orientation, economic status, etc.? This is truly a place where all are welcome.

Another thing that makes this community of faith so unique is their commitment to showing the faith through actions of charity.? This is a community that recognizes where charitable acts need to be done and then goes out and makes them happen.? The devotion First United has to the community of Bloomington is remarkable.

So, do you want to know if First United is right for you?? Come to a service with an open heart and an open mind.? I can guarantee you will be welcomed and it will be an experience you will not soon forget.