My family has attended and been active in a wonderful and vibrant church in south KC ever since we moved here in 1980. However, we have been blessed to visit many other churches of all denominations and synagogues over the years for Saturday or Sunday services or to attend weddings, funerals or Bar Mitzvahs. Kansas City has a rich faith tradition with many well known and respected priests, preachers and Rabbis.
Last Sunday my wife, daughter and I attend St. James Catholic Church located at 39th Street and Troost in KC. It was an amazing experience. I could describe what I experienced in one word – acceptance.
As you looked around this old church – you saw flags from 27 countries which represent the home country of the parishioners. You saw well known business and community leaders, homeless people, people who have lived in KC their entire life and those who just arrive in town recently from some other state or country. You saw African Americans, Caucasians, Latinos gays, lesbians and straight people. You heard lots of languages and dialects; people dressed in coats/ties and folks who may not have been allowed in other churches because of how they were dressed.
Even though I had never visited this church before, I was fortunate to know many folks who regularly worship there. But that didn’t’ matter…because as soon as we arrived at the church everyone became your friend and I have never felt so welcomed. So often houses of worship become places where people judge you for what you believe or wear or say. Sometimes places of worship become havens for discrimination against people of color, people who don’t’ speak English, people who are gay and lesbians and people who challenge the status quo.
St. James was different and everyone who attended this amazing church seemed to feel the same way I felt…ACCEPTED! My wish is that the spirit of St. James faith community would fill our region – we need more acceptance and understanding of each other. Living in our own silos where everyone looks like us and thinks like us is not helpful to our democracy or to the health of our community!