Happening in Kansas City
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Marvin Baker sang his first church solo in 1929, when he was a young boy. Now he’s 89, and his personal faith is still an integral part of his life. He has worked as an educator, author and pastor, among other professions.
Baker sees bringing LGBT people together for fellowship as a very important component in reconciliation.
Since 2010, Baker has moderated a local Gay Christian Fellowship group that meets on Wednesdays in Johnson County, Kan., providing fellowship and discussion time for LGBT folks and those who support them.
Baker’s husband, Paul Trittin, 68, has worked alongside him for 13½ years. They were married in Iowa in July 2013.
Baker was born in Kokomo, Ind., and much of his formal education took place within his home state. He earned his doctorate in elementary education from Ball State University in Muncie and did post-doctoral work at Indiana University. In addition, he has studied English and music at Indiana Wesleyan University and religion at Azusa Pacific University in California.
Baker has retired from working as an educator, but has been involved in several post-retirement projects. His accomplishments include writing and editing books, composing gospel songs and creating musicals.
Baker lost his wife in January 2001. After her death, Baker and Trittin formed the consulting firm Baker Trittin Concepts. Two years later, that firm became Baker Trittin Press. Trittin served as president of the small publishing house and was also an illustrator. Baker was the editor-in-chief.
Trittin, a California native, was stationed in Kansas during the Vietnam era and spent many years in Christian publishing. Part of his overseas experiences involved mission work connected to the Assemblies of God Church at the International Correspondence Institute in Brussels, Belgium. Trittin lived in the Kansas City area in the 1980s and divorced his wife before moving to Michigan with Baker in 2001. Both men said their wives knew about their sexuality before their marriages.
In December 2001, Baker also lost his daughter, Vangie. A few years earlier, with her father’s encouragement, Vangie had been working on writing the New Testament in language that tweens (8- to 12-year-olds) would readily comprehend. Her first focus was the work traditionally attributed to Mark the Evangelist.
After Vangie’s death, Trittin drove Baker to North Carolina for her funeral. During the drive home, Baker shared Vangie’s idea with Trittin and gave him the manuscript to read. Trittin suggested that Baker restart the work and write it from a grandfather’s perspective, which he did as a tribute to his daughter. Baker Trittin Press published Mark’s Story. Grouped with other adaptations for tweens, the anthology was called the Gospel Storyteller Series.
Baker has written and lectured on the creative child, and creativity is a recurring element in his work. Trittin, who has worked as a commissioned artist, also embraces creativity. When the two moved to St. Joseph, Mo., a few years back, they found the raw materials for creating a new kind of fellowship.
The couple rented the church parsonage of Zion United Church of Christ (UCC) in downtown St. Joe. The parsonage backed right up to the church building, so naturally they became involved with the congregation. One day, as Trittin was doing some painting and Baker was looking on, two young women strolled up and stopped to pet a nearby dog.
When Baker offered to show them the church, one woman replied, “I’m gay.” She boldly entered the sanctuary, knelt and prayed, then returned to the group with a swagger of defiant accomplishment.
“We are, too,” said Trittin. And with that unexpected reply, her energy for bluster turned to interest in Bible study.
The church formed a study and fellowship group called the Gay Christian Fellowship (now Gay-Straight Christian Fellowship). Baker had been involved with many denominations over the years, but he was not an ordained UCC minister. Because he was interested in working with this group, however, UCC granted him a special designation as minister to the gays.
In 2010, Zion UCC had a big day of induction. Baker oversaw several baptisms. Some of these were done by sprinkling, but others, by request, were done by immersion. The nearby First Christian Church lent Zion its baptistry for this purpose.
Some readers may recognize Zion UCC’s Gay-Straight Christian Fellowship as the group that hosted St. Joseph’s first gay pride event in 2013.
In January, Baker and Trittin plan to attend the annual conference of the Gay Christian Network (GCN).
Executive director Justin Lee founded this nonprofit organization in 2001, and its stated mission is sharing Christ’s light and love for all. GCN works to promote spiritual growth, cultivate safe community, support family and friends, educate and encourage the church and engage the wider LGBT community and the world. The conference theme will be “Together at the Table.”
Baker said the results of an informal survey were announced at last year’s Gay Christian Network conference in Chicago. He recalls that 85 percent of gay people who were polled reported having some church background. He is interested in what happened to that faith.
“My experience in the last five years is that many have left the church, but they may not have left their faith. I like Billy Graham’s daughter’s phrase, believer in exile. She has written, ‘I have found myself living as a “believer in exile,” not running from God, but tired of putting up with those who call themselves by His name, yet behave in an ungodly manner.’”
Baker says that he apologizes for the church because it taught the LGBT community to be deceitful. But he reminds those who have left the church that they are not alone. There is fellowship. And now there is marriage. Things are happening.
Baker and Trittin now live in Overland Park, Kan. They are involved not only with the local Gay Christian Fellowship, but also with the MoKan Comm-UNITY Consortium, the new group planning 2015’s Mid-America Pride in Kansas City. And they recently took the plunge into another creative endeavor by joining the city’s beloved Heartland Men’s Chorus.
When asked what additional advice he would give to LGBT persons seeking to reconnect with their faith, Baker replied:
The memory of the peace and joy you felt when you had faith in God makes it difficult to ignore his invitation to come home. The reluctance to return is heightened by the misinformation given by some who pretended to be the voice of God. The return to faith is linked to forgiving those who hurt you with misinformation. God offers direct access to him; use it. Find other “seekers” and pursue reconciliation and support.
Opportunities to Participate
▪ The Gay Christian Network (gaychristian.net) will host its 2015 conference (Gay Christian Network) Jan. 8-11 at the Oregon Convention Center in Portland.
After the last 2 years of dealing with the pandemic and packing on those COVID pounds here are some motivational quotes that can be the spark plugs to our wellness engines. You can have a full tank of gas, a clean carburetor, all the fluids topped off, and 300 horsepower of Detroit’s finest under the hood, but you’re going nowhere without that initial spark. In your quest for well-being, you need a catalyst to move you from idle to ideal. Here are some motivational jolts to inspire you to get your health and fitness vehicle moving.
Make time for exercise each dayPhoto by Victor Freitas on Unsplash
Thomas Paine said, “The harder the conflict, the more glorious the triumph.” You will have conflicts with making time for exercise each day. The treadmill will conflict with your enjoyment of the living-room couch and its fluffy pillows. Your body will engage in conflict with dumbbells and exercise balls as it seeks better health. Embrace these conflicts with excitement, and walk through the smoke and fire. Triumph is waiting on the other side.
Marathon runnersPhoto by Miguel A. Amutio on Unsplash
John F. Kennedy said, “Things do not happen. Things are made to happen.” The firefighter’s 55-pound weight loss did not just happen one day on a call. The computer programmer’s success in the Chicago Marathon did not just happen on a Sunday in October. The 4th grade teacher’s significant drop in cholesterol level did not just happen the day before spring break. These people made things happen…and it took time.
Ralph Marston of The Daily Motivator website, wrote, “What you do today can improve all your tomorrows.” Let today be the first day in 28 years without a cigarette. Stay an extra five minutes on the recumbent bike at the gym today. Start training today for the three-day breast cancer walk that is scheduled for the fall. Tomorrow is always waiting to see what you put in your piggy bank today. Invest wisely and watch the dividends grow.
Full MoonPhoto by CHUTTERSNAP on Unsplash
Jill McLemore once said, “Shoot for the moon. Even if you miss, you will land amongst the stars.” Set that goal to trim 75 pounds from your body. Only losing 42 pounds puts you way out there with the North Star. Aim to run 750 miles this year. Coming up 68 miles short will still put you past that former planet Pluto and on your way to the Orion constellation. Dropping eight waist sizes by Christmas instead of the projected 10 will let you glow with the luminescence of several brilliant wonders in the sky. By the way, I think there’s a full moon tonight!
Zig Ziglar stated, “You don’t have to be great to start, but you have to start to be great.” Tom Cruise was another aspiring pretty face in Hollywood about 30 years ago before starting to audition for parts in TV shows. Jared Fogle was a morbidly obese college student at Indiana University in the 1990s before beginning his Subway diet. Mark Zuckerberg was just another starry-eyed Ivy Leaguer until he began to implement a social network idea. They all have that common bond: They started something.
These motivational quotes should help get your wellness engine running and once your car is started there’s no telling where your health and fitness can go. Don't forget to end me a postcard when you get there!
This health and fitness article is brought to you by that guy who’s sneaky like a black hole and bright like a nebula. My name is Ron Blake and I can be found playing with my telescope at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Curative has announced that it is currently providing COVID-19 no-cost testing in your area at Metropolitan Community College.
Stay safe and get tested!
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Curative is the leading provider of COVID-19 testing in the United States. Curative’s mission is to end the COVID-19 pandemic by providing simple-to-use and painless testing at scale to produce reliable data for patients and health officials. We know that broad access to testing, robust contact tracing, and a vaccine are necessary to end the pandemic.
Is there any cost?
Regarding the tests, there is no out of pocket cost to the individual. Through the CARES act, all individuals with health insurance will be covered for a COVID-19 test. No one is ever charged a copay or deductible.
For uninsured individuals, they are covered under the HRSA fund under the CARES act. Curative will never send a bill to any individual getting a COVID-19 test through any of our testing sites.
How soon do I get the results?
Curative provides results within 24 hours of arrival at our lab (if not sooner). We pride ourselves on our ability to distribute tests rapidly, test patients easily, and send them their results quickly. Other highlights include:
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Curative believes that communal well-being is fundamental to individual health.
Curative is building infrastructure to make essential health services easier to access for everyone. Their infrastructure is designed to change as the world does—offering nearby access, affordable services, and science-based guidance.
Their efforts are supported by the optimism and ambition we share with communities across the US, and together we’re imagining new ways to help more people stay safe, healthy, and informed wherever they are.
“I wish I could work out, too, but I just don’t have the motivation!”
Give me a dollar for every time I’ve heard that and I’d be in Cabo San Lucas with an umbrella drink right now. Let’s identify a few of your motivations to get you on the right path. They are there … you just need to realize them so you can make it a great 2022.
How about getting healthy so you can be at that Christmas celebration in 30 years with all the family gathered around and exchanging presents? There will be nieces, nephews, brothers, sisters, children and maybe some grandchildren, all enjoying the sounds and sights of the season. That would be amazing!
How about being healthy so you can watch the first man land on Mars in 2030? You hear all the talk about preparing for a mission to Mars, but it will be a long time in coming. Just think if you were alive and well to see it happen!
How about being healthy so you can attend that 60-year class reunion? It might even be nice to walk into the function with a spring in your step and a glow of health about you! Many of your classmates will have walked past St. Peter and those pearly gates by that time, but you can give yourself a chance to stay here with some proactive measures.
How about being healthy so you can spend more time being relaxed and retired? It would be awesome to just not have to do anything you didn’t want to do! Get up every day and use that watch they gave you as a fashion accessory only. With a healthy body, you can spend ample time in the lap of leisure well into your 90s.
How about being healthy so you can walk your dog with your grandkids or great-nephews after that Thanksgiving meal many years down the road? It will be so cool to have that turkey dinner with all the relatives, but it’ll be even more fun to be able to move around without having to catch your breath between steps.
How about being healthy so you can continue to enjoy vibrant sunsets, thrilling football games, colorful leaves in the fall, summer barbecues, or birthday cards in the mail?
Everyone can find the motivation to work out! You just have to identify which motivation will get you to your starting line each day and which will help you get to your daily finish line.
There are plenty of great things to enjoy in life. Find your motivation and start earning your frequent flyer miles for your healthy life. Then soar into the future with excitement about what will be!
This article of motivation is brought to you by a guy who knows a good thing when he sees it. That guy of good vision is Ron Blake, and he can be spotted on that bright horizon at email@example.com.