The views expressed on this website are those of Gerald Farinas and are not endorsed by Edgewater Presbyterian Church, Presbyterian Church (USA), or any church mentioned below. Information provided is a reflection of the personal beliefs of Gerald Farinas, who is solely responsible for this website's content.
My faith journey
My grandparents were a mix of faith traditions—a Christian Spiritist minister and his wife, and a lapsed Catholic married to, and estranged from, his Mormon wife.
My parents are Catholic—though my mother now shares in worship with an Evangelical community.
I was baptised at an historic Marianist mission, St. John the Baptist Church, in Honolulu, Hawaii. I was confirmed at the Cathedral of Our Lady of Peace, where I was an altar boy for the late bishops Joseph Ferrario and Francis Xavier Di Lorenzo.
It was while at a Jesuit university that I began to struggle with being gay and the Church's doctrinal objection to my identity. I began sharing in worship at Holy Trinity Lutheran Church in Chicago's Lakeview neighborhood—a reconciling community that welcomes lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender persons.
In 2004, my longest-surviving friend in Chicago brought me to his spiritual home in the Edgewater Beach neighborhood.
Edgewater Presbyterian Church
Welcomed by its young adult community and with the open arms of its pastor, Rev. Dr. Barbara H. Cathey, the French Romanesque "community house" on the corner of Bryn Mawr and Kenmore Avenues became my motherchurch.
After attending a service on January 21, 2018 to celebrate my birthday, I wrote of Edgewater Presbyterian Church and its place in my life:
I love this place. I was 20 years old, knew everything and knew nothing, when I first walked into this place. That was over 14 years ago. This place got me started on some kind of journey. I don’t know what kind. But it did.
I don’t think I come here for faith or because of faith. I come here for grace. That’s why I found it serendipitous that Carolyn Bowes led the choir in singing "Amazing Grace" on this particular day—my birthday.
Grace is why I want to be part of this family. And grace is why they let me sit in the same seat every Sunday that I can make it. Grace is what I walk away with from here. And grace is what I hope to give away each day wherever I end up.
The congregation sings a Nigerian song after the passing of the peace each Sunday. It encapsulates how many of us feel about Edgewater Presbyterian Church: "I love this family of God, so closely knitted into one; they've taken me into their midst, and I'm glad to be a part of this great family."
Core Values of Edgewater Presbyterian Church
1. The foundation of our life as Edgewater Presbyterian Church is prayer, worship, music, celebration, and the message of scripture, as they reflect the diversity of who we are and the fullness of who God is, as revealed in Jesus Christ.
2. Because we believe God created all people in God's image and that God's love abounds for all people, we want our church to be a diverse mosaic of all races, religions, cultures, sexual orientations, mental and physical abilities, and educational and economic backgrounds, and we believe God desires for us to live in peace.
3. We believe a vital church must have dedicated leadership and a congregation that participates fully in the life, ministry and mission of the church.
4. We believe that we are called to be a shining light, witnessing to God's love and justice, and deepening our own faith by serving our community, our city and the world, through our personal involvement, the resources of our church building, and our other material resources.
5. We value life-long Christian discipleship for all members—young and old alike—and we desire to provide a variety of opportunities to nurture everyone's faith.
Other faith communities
There are many other Chicago faith communities—including Jewish and Muslim—that will welcome you. Here are several that share in similar core values:
* Despite statements by U.S. Catholic bishops against lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender persons and their civil rights movement, there are a few Catholic communities that have a record of being more "welcoming" than others. I have added them to this list based on my personal experiences in these communities. In some cases, their pastors have engaged in debating the hierarchy on behalf of their LGBT members.
** These are congregations that have designated themselves as reconciling communities, within their respective denomination, that openly welcome LGBT persons. Among them is a Catholic church that is home to the Archdiocesan Gay and Lesbian Outreach (AGLO).
Kanaka Wai Wai
One of my favorite hymns growing up was "Kanaka Wai Wai" by John K. Almeida—here performed by Mark Yamanaka.
Written in the Hawaiian language for the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints in Honolulu, the Mormon leadership rejected the song in 1915 because it sounded too much like the hula—considered inappropriate by the missionaries in Hawaii.
What would have been lost to time, the song was revived in 1946 when Almeida recorded it with the now-legendary Hawaiian musician Genoa Keawe.
The hymn is based on Matthew 19:16-24—known as the "Parable of the Rich Young Man."
The chorus is translated as, "Give, give away all of your possessions, then come and follow me in order to gain eternal life."