Kris’s first time at Mosaic Community Church started out uneventfully. “It was about five years ago,” Kris recalls. “Jean and I had been on a few dates, and she asked me to come visit her church.” The service was enjoyable but undramatic until the moment when Jean introduced Kris to her pastor, Brad Zinn. “He said, ‘So, how do you two know each other?’” Kris remembers. “And Jean replied, ‘OkCupid.’ That felt really unique.”
Kris had gone to church for their whole life, but like many queer people, navigating their sexuality and gender in church had always been a challenge. “I grew up in New Jersey, and the church I went to said that homosexuality was a sin. There were people who I thought were queer, but you didn’t talk about it openly because people were supposed to be ‘delivered’ from it.”
Kris came out when they were 18, shortly before leaving Jersey to attend college in New York, ultimately moving to Philly in 2009 to study law. Over the next few years, they visited several churches, but it was a pretty mixed bag. “I went to a church once or twice that made a big deal about not having women in leadership, and that felt super weird,” Kris says. Another church was a better fit ideologically, but was too far from the city to regularly attend. A third referenced homosexuality as a sin during Kris’s first visit. “There were definitely times when I felt like ‘I don’t know if there’s a church for me.’”
When Kris started visiting Mosaic with Jean, they didn’t have high hopes. “Being comfortable is not necessarily the main thing I want to get out of being in different spaces. My attitude with Mosaic was, ‘I guess I’ll see how uncomfortable I am in this space.’” After the initial visit, Kris continued attending regularly with Jean.
Then came 2014. “When there was a pretty clear lack of agreement about homosexuality between our larger church association and our church, Brad wanted to have coffee with Jean and me to talk about it,” Kris says. During coffee, Kris expressed that they would be ok if Mosaic stayed in the association, even if that meant they couldn’t get married or be a leader in the church. “After we left I thought about it more, and I realized that wasn’t true. I realized that if I couldn’t get married here, I couldn’t stay.”
When Mosaic made the decision to leave the association, it was affirming for Kris. “Even though that decision wasn’t about me, when Jean and I did get married in April 2017 we got married at Mosaic. If you would have told me back when we got together that I would have gotten married in a church that we both attended, I don’t know that I would have believed it.”
Being part of Mosaic is just one way Kris experiences God. “I feel like I connect with God in my work,” they say. Kris is a lawyer with Amistad law project, representing incarcerated people, advocating for criminal policy change, and organizing against mass incarceration. “I also connect with God in my mornings. I get up pretty early-earlier than I have to-and in those moments I have time to get perspective on my life and how it fits into the larger moments. It feels like God is there in that moment, in that space.”
Kris still has questions about church. But for now, Mosaic is home. “Before going to Mosaic, I just thought I wouldn’t have a church where I could go regularly that would be at all like a community,” they said. “I thought I would just have to be ok with that.” At Mosaic, Kris has been happy to have those fears disproven.
Interview and article by Rebecca DeWhitt.
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