Janice Packwood – Spirituality and Religion

“I’m at the point now that I don’t know if I’m even a Christian.”

Churches were taking [ministers’ stoles] away because they were gay. They brought like 240 [of the stoles to Spokane for the Shower of Stoles exhibit]. They had them down at the Presbyterian church, at Bethany [Presbyterian Church]. They had them all lined up. They did a three-day workshop. That’s how we started our stepping stones of really being out. The group that was backing them was [Soulforce], out of Seattle.[1] Some of the [people from Soulforce] were there and they had stuff up. It was teaching you how to handle diversity in a positive way. They go and they stand up all over [the country]. They get put in jail and bailed out, and put in jail and bailed out. We learned so much there. That’s how we first learned about MCC. Gonzaga University sent a professor over to talk about philosophy. They talked about what scripture was saying and what it wasn’t saying. They had a lot of different ministers, and their wives, that came and joined in [the] discussions. [They] were there to support [us]. We were hoping to get more young kids to come.

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[At one time,] we went to a little old church down there by Westminster [Congregational Church]. I really liked it. It was just such a poor, plain, humble, little chapel. It was just exciting to have people that were like you there. See, we’d been together a long time at that point and still hadn’t developed a sense of community here, with the community in Spokane. We went to MCC a few times, and then we moved back to Minnesota after that.

[In Minnesota] we went to St. Stephens, which is a very diverse Catholic Church. [It’s so diverse that] the bishop will not give them a priest anymore. It’s a diversity that’s not just GLBTQ, it’s everybody. You have a lot of gay people that give the sermons, that run a lot of the parish things.

Then, when we came back from Minnesota, that’s when we went back to MCC. We didn’t know where we should go first. We tried to go back to the Catholic church, St. Anne’s. It’s a diverse church. It’s a very poor one that has just a melting pot of people. We left. I said, “I can’t go back.” It was so depressing there. It was so dark to me, during the whole service. “I can’t go back there. Let’s go try MCC.” So we did and we were there for quite a while.

Some of [the Odyssey youth] came to MCC. A lot of them were not Christian-based. I didn’t understand that totally, then. Do I understand it now? Yeah. I had a lot to learn from them still, in watching their process. Other people think we went backwards [with our spirituality], but after three years of being with Odyssey kids, involved at MCC, and out in the community, I’m at the point now that I don’t know if I’m even a Christian. [That has come from] through watching [the youth]. See, they don’t know that, but it’s hindsight later. I’m sitting there, thinking about it. I was saying, “But you have to come to our church. It’s so cool and accepts everybody.” And they were so patient with me.

 

 

[1]Soulforce employs non-violent means to oppose political and religious oppression of LGBT individuals. The exhibit was in 2001.

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Source: Interview with Maureen Nickerson on 13 December 2006, held at the Northwest Museum of Arts and Culture.