My All Saints Story: Ryan Clinton
During my freshman year at college, I had a falling out with my childhood church over multiple issues, but in the end, the experience led me to almost leave Christianity altogether. I felt as far from God as I ever had been. Knowing this, during the summer before my Sophomore year, one of my friends offered to take me church shopping, which I happily agreed to. After looking around at a couple of denominations in the area, we eventually came upon All Saints and stopped by one Sunday morning for a Rite II service. That was my first ever experience with an Episcopal service, and it shook me to my earthly core. The welcoming aura of the congregation and clergy was overwhelming, and the Eucharist in itself was and still is an experience that is unlike any communion I have ever participated in before, both in the practices involved and the emotional and spiritual feeling I received after. Two distinct moments have stood out to me since: 1. After the service, one of the parish members drove to my house to hand-deliver me choco-chip cookies bigger than my hand, and personally welcome me to the church. 2. I remember vividly seeing one of the members of the choir wearing a cross with a rainbow string holding it across her neck. As a gay Christian who was struggling with his sexuality at the time, that forced me to do my research about the Episcopal Church. After finding out the church's stance on "God loves you. Period.", I felt I needed to experience more of this new and profound community. I continued to attend All Saints for the next few months, before returning to college in Tennessee. At the time of writing this, it's been just under 2 years since I visited All Saints for the first time, just over 1 year since I've been confirmed into the Episcopal Church, and 5 months since I began discerning with my priest a call from God into ordination as a priest I saw this section on the church's website about sharing your story, so I felt I might as well share my story about the church that set me on the path I am now.