Kate and Charles Barker
Growing up on opposite coasts we could not have imagined we would meet, marry, make our home, raise our own family, and have our careers here in Pasadena. But this is our story.
When Nicole’s and Mark’s paths came together four years ago, they shared a lot in common. They had studied at the same university, had lived in the same neighborhoods and had even gone to the same church where they had sat in the same pews but not known each other. When they did meet, they talked about wanting to develop the spiritual side of their relationship and begin their faith journey together.
I found All Saints through Yelp.
My mother grew up in a very strict sect of the Seventh Day Adventists. Because of this, she shied away from church life after she left home to go to college. My father, born in China, grew up Buddhist. Until I was six, we were semi-regular practicing Buddhists. After we moved away from the nearest temple, we stopped practicing and I grew up in a secular household. We discussed the philosophy of and debated the merits of various religions, but did not actively have faith in any one religion.
All Saints has been the one constant in my life.
When my mother Pat Kelly, asked me to attend a new church in Pasadena with her, I was reluctant. Ten years earlier the church I grew up in had rejected my being gay, and I was not ready to allow religion back in my life. She said, “They have really great music at All Saints,” something she knew I would appreciate. After several weeks of her cajoling me to attend with her, I acquiesced to her request. It was All Saints Sunday, 1990.
At the north door recently I met a couple from Santa Monica who hadn’t been at All Saints since Christmas. They had just taken advantage of their home state of Minnesota’s recent legalization of same-sex marriage and knew we’d share their joy. In the midst of meeting them a former colleague of mine from Five Acres greeted me saying she’d moved back to the area and was living in Santa Monica. Unfortunately, it had taken her more than two hours by the metro line to join us.
Coincidence? I don’t think so. I introduced her to the couple, she gave them her card, and hopefully, they’ll carpool and we’ll see them again soon.
I love setting the table for dinner parties and holiday meals. It’s satisfying to make the table inviting and attractive. As a member of the Altar Guild I have the privilege of doing that for the most significant meal we share, the Eucharist.
When my husband and I looked for a church community to participate in, it was important to us that fostered inclusive families and engaging activities for children and youth. While we are not yet parents (we have been in the adoption process for two years), we found that the Children, Youth & Families initiative is a strong ministry made up of recurring volunteers. When Laura Thornton shared her story and needs at our New Member Class, I knew immediately that I was going to work with her. I sought her out at the next Sunday service and began shadowing volunteers at Children’s Chapel. From there, I spent more than a year observing and leading in that ministry.
When my husband and I first found All Saints, we immediately wanted to take the New Members Class. But then life got busy! We had to miss our first chance, but thankfully it’s offered a few times throughout the year and were able to sign up in the fall. I loved the first part of the class, where the clergy members introduce themselves and tell their story, but I was a little nervous about the small group hour afterward. Meeting new people can intimate me, but luckily I had an amazing group leader. Edna helped guide our group and made everyone feel comfortable. It felt amazing to chat with a group of people on similar (and not so similar) journeys and find connections and common ground. Over the eight weeks our group really bonded and we became friends — and we continue to get together to this day!
I was a part of the Prayer Shawl knitting Ministry from the very beginning. I was involved because I loved to knit. Never attended a meeting. I just made shawls. Toni Larsen, a crocheter, took over the ministry and I was ask to lead the knitting part.