The Ministry of Denim

denim_jacket_cuff_closeupThe Ministry of Denim
Maria Evans

One of my deepest core beliefs as a member of Trinity-Kirksville is that no one who ever walks through our doors has reason to feel that he or she is not dressed well enough to attend church.

Like many people, I avoided the church for much of my adult life because of a general sense of feeling unworthy.  For me, one of the particulars of those feelings of unworthiness had a lot to do with how I looked or what I was wearing relative to the people worshiping near me, and how that seemed to be perceived by those sitting nearby.  So many of us grew up having it hammered in our head that one only shows up to church in the proverbial “Sunday best,” and only our best within a range of clothing or hairstyle that reflects a very narrow gender-specific norm.  By the time I was in my early 20’s, I knew that in being true to who I was as a child of God, I would never meet the standard of what many churches reflect in their parishioners’ attire.  I have felt the sting of how that isolation feels, and bristled at people’s “helpful” attempts to change me.

When I began coming to Trinity-Kirksville, I was relieved that people attended in everything from “standard stereotypical Sunday best” to shorts and flip-flops.  Part of my spiritual journey at Trinity has been to accept that we are all equally worthy children of God, and that part of being a piece of “one holy catholic and apostolic church” is that we are all equal in our unworthiness as human beings–that no one has to feel he or she is “more unworthy” than anyone else.  God has hands big enough to hold both our corporate worthiness and corporate unworthiness.

As a sign of my gratitude for that, I tend to show up on Sundays rather dressed down–what a friend of mine coined as “the ministry of denim.”  My usual spot on Sunday morning is in a pew that is easily seen from the door when people enter the sanctuary.  I wear what I wear, because who I am, and at some point I realized that sitting in a conspicuous spot also opened the way for anyone who might walk in our door for the first time to feel okay that they are dressed “well enough” to stay.  My hope is that someone feeling a little edgy about that would think, “Well, she’s wearing cargo jeans and muddy boots, so maybe my coming here is okay.”

If you are reading this because you are considering a visit to Trinity, please come as you are and as who you are.  Our theology teaches us of a Jesus who did not require a dress code at the door to be the recipient of a healing miracle.  You are worthy to walk inside our red doors by virtue of being a beloved child of God.  Part of our journey as a faith community is to seek and serve Christ in all people.  I can’t promise we get it right every time, but I can affirm we take growing in this faith practice seriously.  Please join us!