I have lived in several states throughout the continental United States. The first time I left my Midwest hometown, I moved to Los Angeles. The big city. At age 18, I found it easy to meet and make new friends. I met them at the community college I attended, nightclubs, parties, or the record store. (Yes, in 1978 we had stores that sold vinyl records.)

As I got older and continued to move across the country, I discovered it was not as easy to make new friends. How was I possibly going to make friends when I no longer participated in most of the activities I did when I was younger? I started to believe it was not possible for me to have close friends or a long-term romantic relationship.

Entering Recovery

I entered recovery in 1994 as a 34-year-old single parent. People in 12-step recovery groups became my friends, especially those with children, and the bikers—those who rode Harleys.

Soon after I got sober, I found Unity through an AA sponsor. I saw the connection between the 12 steps and Unity principles. My favorite is the third principle: “We create our life experiences through our way of thinking.” In AA we often say, “I came for the drinking; I stayed for my thinking.” My thinking had convinced me I could no longer find friends as I did when I was a young adult. But that was only true in my own mind!

As a Black female minister who happened to be single, I was determined to create community for myself outside of the church as a way to create healthy boundaries.

Finding Community

Later, while attending Unity seminary, one of my instructors informed our class that when we become ordained ministers serving a church, we should create community outside of the church. The church should not become the sole source of friendship, companionship, affection, and sharing for the minister. I didn’t really believe it but was willing to try it out to see if the instructor was right.

With this awareness, I began serving a church in Syracuse, New York. One of the congregants told me about an organization named SAGE for older LGBTQIA+ people. There was a SAGE flyer on the church bulletin board advertising a monthly women’s night that evening. Wow, I was so excited since this was my first day as senior minister at the church!

I put the address in my GPS and drove to their office in heavy snow. When I arrived at the women’s gathering on Friday, I was not able to get in because I didn’t know the door code. A woman who knew the code walked up, and, little did I know, she later told another woman that I was new in town.

As a Black female minister who happened to be single, I was determined to create community for myself outside of the church as a way to create healthy boundaries. At this gathering, I found women who were playing cards, watching television, or talking with each other while snacking on sugary and salty treats. They welcomed me to this community when I introduced myself. They even invited me to a dinner gathering the following Monday, which was my birthday.

Using Unity Principles

Then I received a Facebook instant message from someone named Akosua, the woman who had been told there was a new person in the SAGE group. She invited me to a group within SAGE for LGBTQIA+ people of color. I was finding many places to go outside of church. I noticed how much using Unity principles assisted in me creating balance in my life as an out minister.

The lady from Facebook and I met. Akosua started to show me around town. She had not stepped foot in a church in more than 20 years. The friendship that began because I wanted to create community outside of the church I serve continued until we started dating. Today we have known each other for 10 years and have been married for seven.

This article first appeared in the Spiritual Keys to Aging Well booklet from Unity.

About the Author

Rev. Edith Washington-Woods is senior minister at Unity of Gaithersburg, Maryland.
Rev. Edit Washington Woods


No Results