I had a chance to talk with Mahan Siler at last week’s Road Show in Asheville. Mahan, who has retired to the Asheville area, was my family’s pastor at Pullen Memorial Baptist Church in Raleigh, one of the Council’s member congregations, in the 1990s. Mahan is one of a very small group of faith leaders who have led North Carolina’s faith communities to be welcoming of gay and lesbian Christians. As my pastor, he had a crucial influence in my journey from conservative Christian homophobe to understanding that gay and lesbian people are also created in God’s image, are also loved by God, and are also my brothers and sisters in Christ.
My wife and I were friends with Dave and Nathan at Pullen, and we remember when they brought Max into their family and into our church family. Susan had occasion to work with Dave in 1999 when the Special Olympics World Summer Games came to Raleigh, and they were able to use it as an occasion to call attention to the almost 7,000 North Carolinians with developmental disabilities who were on waiting lists for needed services.
Learning of how Max has grown up and where he is today is another reminder of the importance of having parents – adoptive or natural, straight or gay – who will love their children, be sure they know that they are loved, engage them in a loving faith community, and encourage them to develop all the potential a loving God has given them.