I am amazed as to how our special service, Celebrating National Coming Out Day, has grown. In 2004 we began holding the service in the chapel at St. Wilfrid of York Episcopal Church, Huntington Beach, CA with about 25 people attending. This year we held the service at St. Luke’s Episcopal Church, Long Beach, CA with almost 200 people in attendance.  2011 marked the second time a Bishop of the church officiated with the Rt. Rev. Mary Glasspool leading the service, and offering a homily.

Our service revolves around four people sharing their coming out experience as it pertains to their faith journey. All four of the people speaking this year touched each and every person in attendance with their honesty, and their struggle, but each story ended on a positive note which in some ways included their hope to be honest with themselves, and people they come into contact, and at the same time sharing their life within a community of faith.

Music is a key element to the service as after each person speaks, and as the people in attendance ask for God’s blessing on their journey of faith, an anthem is sung allowing people a chance to reflect on what they heard. Christopher Gravis, an extremely talented choral conductor put together a stellar group of singers from all over the southland. The anthems selected were fresh, and unique. Two of the musical pieces are a gift from God.  Frank Tichelli’s opus, “There Will Be Rest” is the kind of music which draws you inward, offering an opportunity to rest with the holy. As people make their way to the high altar, to offer prayers written on slips of paper, the choir sang this remarkable work by Johnathan Dove “Seek Him that Maketh the Seven Stars.” As people made their way to the holy space, the choir intoned the text “Seek him….seek him…seek him.”

This service always includes a dramatic story, and this year was no different. I was told, after the service, that a mother and a daughter were in the congregation, but seated on opposite isles of the church. After the sharing of four stories, a few hymns, and Bishop Glasspool’s homily, the mother and daughter reunited, reconciling their differences, sitting together arm in arm.

Each year I am told of these touching stories, stories of reconciliation, of transformation, and of hope. This year people were told they were to Shine…and shine they did. All throughout the service people, maybe some for the first time, were introduced to God’s “YES!”