I would like to start by saying that I am celebrating everyone’s freedom from Grace Church, and I am happy that your lives have improved from the separation. When you read what I’m about to say, I hope you don’t write me off as bitter. I admit that I’m angry. I admit that I’m angry at a lot of /you/. But I hope that you will read and respect my story as I have with yours and recognize the validity in what I have to say.
I was raised into this church without a choice. My sibling and I were raised in a misogynistic and manipulative world with no other competing leadership or ideology until much later. I spent from about the age of 2 years old to my Junior year of high school at YC/GC. Many of your stories I remember. I remember when you first arrived, and I remember when you left. The raising of this issue in the past few days has been a very dark time for both my sibling and me.
In each level of children’s ministry, we would have a mentor. The mentor would drop us once we moved up to a new level of children’s ministry. Our mentors would take us out to lunch and let us confide to them. The last time I spoke with one of mine I went to make chocolate chip oatmeal cherry cookies. I never heard from them after that. Every time this happened with a leader I felt that I had done something wrong or managed to annoy someone else out of my life.
For the longest time, I wished that as I walked through the sanctuary at church that one person would even look at me and talk to me for more than a second with genuine interest. I always felt that someone only spoke with me if they wanted a favor, felt they needed to correct something, or had to because there was no way they didn’t hear me say, “Hi”. But I wasn’t real to anyone. I was a kid who didn’t fit stereotypes no matter how hard I tried and was discouraged to be myself. I can’t help but think that my memories of being a kid would be completely different if I had experienced one ounce of community in the church that was comparable to what I’ve heard in these stories.
The effect of your behaviors will affect my sibling and I for the rest of our lives. The way our thought processes developed were molded by your hands. We have seen so many familiar names of people who recognize each other and love each other. We still feel like outcasts in this community. If no one really cared about us then, why would they now? We were just children. Children in the church were often ignored unless they could be made useful.
One issue that I’ve only seen addressed in one comment is the misogynistic actions of the church. This was a very large factor that lead my sibling and me to leave. Women were supposed to fit a specific and medieval image. Quiet, gentle, baby-making housekeepers that were to always submit to their husbands. That may sound harsh, but anytime my sibling or I questioned what seemed to be in our futures to a leader, we were told that if we would submit to god’s will we would find happiness. I remember a few specific instances of women, whose initials I will leave out as not to single you out in a forum where many are present, whom I watched the energy slowly drain out of with each year in the church, of marriage, and with each child born until they were shells of what they used to be. The voices of women are drowned out by the men and buried under protocol in many churches outside Grace, but leadership seemed especially bent on it there.
My sibling and I are both members of the LGBTQ+ community. We aren’t christians anymore. We’ve thoroughly examined our instinctive reactions and actively fight against everything we were taught to do. We don’t feel that self-critisism is something we should always be focused on. We live our lives and trust our decisions without constantly hoping nobody will find fault with it. We never would have been able to find and accept ourselves at Grace.
My stomach still feels sick seeing most of the names that I have recognized on this site. Many of you probably don’t even know that you impacted our lives. As for me, going back to remember is painful. I can only hope another child is never treated that way and that those who remain that were raised or are being raised there can find their way.