Very Much Not Alone

To support Noell and others, please visit our Indiegogo campaign and donate to the retreat today so that we can bring these amazing people together once again. When I first started seminary, I was convinced there were no other LGBTQ people seeking ordination in the PC(USA). It sounds so silly to say, yet I felt utterly alone.

The summer after my 2nd year of seminary, I was interning at Ghost Ranch and shared my story with some of the music and worship leaders I met there. One of the folks I talked to put me in touch with a man from his church named Brian. Brian was gay, finishing seminary, and just happened to be on the planning team for the retreat which was a week away. Though I was unable to attend the retreat that year due to my own time constraints, Presbyterian Welcome was ready and willing to help me get a last minute plane ticket to join them. I’ll never forget how powerful that moment was, to have a group of strangers say, “You belong with us, and we will pay to get you here if it’s at all possible.” The seeds were sown, and I decided I would attend the following year. I’ve since been to four retreats, served on the planning team twice, and am honored to be helping the fundraising team this year. Becoming a part of this community helped me to realize that I was very much not alone.

I have been blessed with a supportive family, congregation, faculty, student peers, and CPM liason through my process. I am thankful for those allies, but sometimes they don’t understand the nitty gritty of what it is to be in my shoes. Having the community nurtured by Presbyterian Welcome has fostered a group of people who have had or are in the midst of a similar experience to mine, people who can give personal advice about the process, people who understand how painful it is to feel called and not have a place to serve, people who understand the variety of emotions that are involved in the coming out process. This group has also helped me to become better educated about what it means to be a part of the LGBTQ community and to be a Presbyterian, as well as the ways we talk about that experience. I am thankful for the nurture, love, education, and support I have received by being a part of this community.

Noell-Rathbun-Cook-199x300Noell Rathbun-Cook is a Candidate for Ministry in the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) and lives in Richmond, VA.

To support Noell and others, please visit our Indiegogo campaign and donate to the retreat today so that we can bring these amazing people together once again.