Why Forefront Matters with Stef Fontela
How has Forefront supported me in ways that other churches haven't? Well, it's funny because I think the question should be more like, "How hasn't Forefront supported me?
This church has been a massive part of my life over the last 6 years, almost just as long as I've lived in New York City. Forefront has become my safe place to sit for an hour or two on Sundays to wrestle my stress and anxiety to peace. Forefront has become a group of people I call family who constantly help me and love me, even if it requires good ole Robbie Kleinberg and Don Torrance carrying boxes into my new apartment or Mira dropping off dinner to me when hypochondriac Stef proves herself correct. Forefront has become the ability to text message Jonathan and Jubi in the middle of the night because I'm convinced I've officially gone out of my mind this time and need someone to talk me back to center. Forefront has become the spiritual studio that's allows me to question, grow, and explore my faith in a way that I've never done before, making it stronger and more insightful than it's ever been.
These are just a handful of ways that Forefront has supported me and other churches haven't. I know it seems like the run of the mill types of things that a church and its community would do to support their members but there's one thing I haven't really mentioned that plays a big role in this story. Forefront supports me—and when I say me, while yes, I mean me as Stef the 32-year-old, filipino girl from San Francisco who loves to cook and pretend to play the guitar, I also mean me as in Stef, the lesbian. You see, I grew up in the church and I loved it. But one day, when you're 18-years-old and you're staring at yourself in your dorm room mirror begging yourself not to be gay, you realize you're about to lose church.
That's what happened to me. Other churches gave up on me. Other churches turned their backs on me. Other churches closed their doors on me and asked me to never come back. But Forefront, they let me be in a way that allowed me to reconcile, mend, heal, and start a journey meant to flourish. So yah, that's how Forefront has supported me in ways that other churches haven't. They let me exist and be a part of something I need...and that's church, love, and faith in God. - Stef Fontela