Our Voice: Church picks up pieces, where community failed

April 28, 2013 

Everyone needs a place where they feel safe and comfortable. For teens the ideal place for that would be a home, with their family.

Sadly, for many, that is not the case.

It's difficult to believe -- but apparently still true -- that some parents of gay children let the child's sexual preference overshadow, and even unravel, family ties.

For the sake of argument, isn't a son or daughter that is "lost" the one who needs the most acceptance and parental love? For most teens, kids who don't find acceptance at home will look or it elsewhere.

The gay, lesbian and transgendered youth in our community have found that safe place in the Vista Youth Center for six years.

It wasn't much to look at from the outside, but it gave the kids a "sense of place" on the inside.

With grants and donations, the community has been able to keep the center open, but the finances haven't kept up with the costs, and earlier this month, Vista announced it was shutting its doors.

The center is still trying to raise money. A campaign requesting $50 donations will keep Vista afloat, if they can get enough donors.

In the meantime, it's a loss to the whole community -- especially for teens who already may feel disconnected and displaced in society. How does alienating a segment of the population solve any of society's ills or open a dialogue of healing?

St. Paul's Episcopal Church has been providing emotional support (and Friday night dinners) to the center for some time. How can you go wrong with food and teens?

Now, they are extending their generosity by opening their doors, literally, to the group.

Unlike most churches, Episcopalians ordain openly gay and lesbian ministers and some dioceses perform same-sex marriages, so perhaps they have a soft spot for these kids.

Or, perhaps, they are just looking for an opportunity to serve and discovered a group in need.

Whatever the motivation, it's a welcome step to see St. Paul's parishioners opening their hearts and their building to the Vista Youth Center.

Perhaps it will be a temporary arrangement. Perhaps the community will recognize the value in supporting this group.

Or perhaps society will evolve to the point where various subsets of our culture don't need individual organizations; and one day we will all see each other as part of a great whole.

Perhaps one day.

In the meantime, thank you to St. Paul's.

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