It was Tuesday morning. We were just finishing up our "Canterbury Kids Songs & Stories" program in the parish hall when I saw a stranger come into the church and look into the parish hall.
I went over to greet him. "You're wearing a collar. Can you pray for me?" he asked.
"Of course," I answered, "that's what I'm here for." I led him into the Mother's Chapel, and he began to tremble and weep.
"It's been a rough week, hasn't it?" I said. "I'm a gay man," he answered, "and I'm just so frightened. But I left the house today. I made myself leave the house. And I'm trying to make my way across town to a doctor's appointment. But I'm just so scared." He began to cry and shake harder. "It just feels like there's no safe place in this world. Then I saw your church, and I'm a Christian. And your door was open. I mean, your door was LITERALLY open. And I knew I would be welcome here. I knew I would be safe here."
"That's what the church is for," I replied. "Sanctuary."
We prayed together. I anointed him with holy oil. And I encouraged him to remain in the chapel as long as he wished. As I headed back to the parish hall to wrap up "Songs & Stories", he stopped me.
"Wait," he said. "Thank you. I can't tell you how much that open door meant to me. Please, will you tell whoever at the church needs to know, 'Thank you'. 'Thank you for your open door.'"