Judy Burton and Mary McKenzie

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When we retired and moved to Palm Desert just over three years ago one of our highest priorities was to find a church. We were both born and raised in the Roman Catholic Faith and were, for many years what you could call “dyed in the wool Roman Catholics”. We spent over 40 years working in Catholic healthcare and actively practicing our faith, albeit “undercover” once we had figured out that we were gay and had made a life long commitment to each other.

It was in the early 2000s that we began to feel unwelcome in our Roman Catholic faith community. Initially we ignored it, but eventually we felt that our church had left us, and so we left it. Without our church we were bit lost and lonely but we were also very busy in our careers and had created our own Christian Community with each other, with our families, and with our friends.

When we talked about retirement and moving to Palm Desert, we also talked about what was important to us, and finding a Church was at the top of our list. Knowing that the Episcopal Church shared the same Sacramental base as Roman Catholicism and having heard of Saint Margaret’s, the church attended by President and Betty Ford, we decided to check it out first.

That first September Sunday in 2011 “hooked us”. We knew that God had brought us to where we were meant to be. We felt right at home with the liturgy, inspired by the sermon, and uplifted by the music. We were amazed and thrilled to hear a woman deacon proclaiming the Gospel. And we felt welcomed: as we came in, during the liturgy at the sign of peace, and as we left and were greeted in the narthex by Bruce and Gene. And since that first day we continue to know that Saint Margaret’s is truly a church of inclusion, welcoming us and all those seeking God. After six months we enrolled in the education program that led to our being received into the Episcopal Church June of 2012.

So what is it about Saint Margaret’s that continues to transform us?

It is first and foremost the quality of spirituality that we find in liturgies and music, in Education for Ministry, and in our interactions with all of you, our community of worshipers.

Secondly, it’s the opportunity to be involved. We’re both part of the hospitality team, Judy’s a member of the pastoral care team, and I’m on the altar guild. We love participating in the supper clubs and the many other activities that connect us with the Saint Margaret’s community. All of our Saint Margaret activities enrich us spiritually and fill us with gratitude.

Finally, we are committed to the personal growth that God calls us to, through liturgies, through meditation, through reading groups and through the discernment process. We have found that Saint Margaret’s is the place that calls us to care about God’s work, see God in each other; for this we are very thankful.