In the process of preparing to launch the “You Would Love My Church” campaign, church members where asked a series of foundational questions about KBC. Here are Ann’s moving and motivating responses.
What do you see as KBC’s identity?
KBC is not about an agenda of anything else but organizing to be a force for good and fellowship in the community. For me, KBC is a church where anybody is welcome and can take part in doing good works with open hearts and a spirit of cooperation. KBC recognizes that everyone has a light to shine.
Why are you here and not somewhere else?
First, KBC’s service is both elevated, participatory, intimate and challenging. It’s not a performance (although I’ve heard some beautiful and moving ones), it’s not a rally (although I have been inspired), and it’s not a social hour (although I’ve so enjoyed the fellowship there with the beautiful friends I’ve made). The services are like a touchstone with a faith tradition in which I find comfort, inspiration and a call, a charge to work on by myself or together with others in my life.
Second, KBC is welcoming. I feel Jesus really challenged the status quo of what may have been proper in His time by befriending and helping people that others in society may have looked down upon – KBC strives to walk that journey as well by inviting everyone to worship and take part in communion.
Finally, KBC offers so many opportunities to take part in good works – the arts and music, youth trips and missions, and especially Hands on Kirkwood.
What would/do you say to people about KBC?
I know people raise their eyebrows at me because of some Baptist stereotypes and images in the news. I reassure people that they’ve never seen KBC. It’s a church that has a diverse and vibrant congregation, a smart, dedicated and thoughtful group of leaders, beautiful music and a respect for the arts, and a sense of mission to the community AND to the world.
What is uniquely “KBC?”
Hands on Kirkwood is truly amazing and inspirational. KBC doesn’t hand people flyers that only say Jesus loves them, it tries to show people the love of Jesus through caring acts. To me that makes all the difference. We don’t have to contribute monetarily, if we have time, understanding, love, talents or just our own two hands, we can serve each other with love as we were charged to do.
What would you not say to someone about KBC?
I would not say to a person that we feel like we have all the answers. As much as I brag on KBC, part of that should be rooted in humility. I think we were humbled as a community by the 2008 shootings in Kirkwood which spurred a need to dialogue and reach out. Some may disagree, but I feel KBC is a place which realizes that God’s people and the best church cannot be infallible. We may not know the whole truth of the world, we may be blinded in some ways, which is not to say we can’t seek to know it better through what we find together in scripture and tradition.
I would say at KBC it’s okay to not be sure, it’s okay to ask questions about faith, about belief about scripture, etc. Right now we see through a mirror darkly, but one day if there is a truth to know, we’ll know it. The best we can all do now is to really try to live out what we believe to be the love of Jesus in the world.
How could we translate out identity better?
I sometimes wish we weren’t called Baptists, but it’s not us, it really is other groups giving us a “bad name” as it were. I’m proud to be a Baptist and I believe that “believer’s baptism” makes more spiritual sense anyway. I really like the missions in which our youth get to collaborate with other churches and communities, and especially [when they were] learning about other faith traditions. We have a lot to learn from each other through respect and shared humanity. I think this needs to continue.
Sometimes the message of love has to be brave as well as humble. I was proud KBC hosted a STL Gateway Men’s Chorus concert a couple years ago and that we welcome and embrace openly LGBT members and their partners. I feel like, as corny as it sounds, love is the answer. Greg used to have a sticker in his choir room that said, “Love Wins.” I think that is true.
What hopes do you have for KBC?
I hope KBC continues to grow and be a place for everyone – families, children, teenagers, married couples, singles, LGBT individuals and couples, the elderly, the young, and of every race and background. I feel like we are stronger with diversity. I like the work Cecelia has done with the Gospel Choir and I hope it continues to be a place where anybody feels loved and welcomed. I feel KBC is headed in the right direction.
What concrete ideas do you have about sharing this #ywlmc concept with others?
I think we share this idea again by continuing to be brave actors in our community. Acts of love can be big like Hands on Kirkwood, which is big through its huge participation, but let’s not lose sight of those terribly important small acts of love. Those good works nobody sees but the person and God. We still have to fight against an onslaught of fixed attitudes not just toward Christians and church but indifference. I think churches like KBC can show people – through acts of love and outreach – that the heart of the message, when acted upon, is a power of great good, of great love and transformative power. Social media and big, brave acts!