CRESSKILL, NJ -- Over the past five years, Cresskill Congregational United Church of Christ has focused on increasing its LGBT community with social events.
“We've had a number of firsts here,” the Rev. David Bocock told Daily Voice. "People find that they are at home with us and can be religious again.
"We’re very progressive," said Bocock, who's served in the century-old parish the past 15 years. "That’s a great mantle to wear.
“We had this one kid -- Adam. I got a few kids to include him in dancing, and he ended up having a great time. The next time, I saw a different Adam. His hair was slicked back, and he pulled his boyfriend in like he owned the place.
"He told me he was so happy to be here,” the pastor said.
Originally from Oklahoma, the 40-something Bocock spent time in the U.S. Air Force and came out about his sexuality to his parents before moving East. He ended up at Cresskill United, one of the first churches to ordain a female pastor and have an openly gay pastor.
Nearly five years ago, one of the church's 75 or so parishoner asked Bocock about LGBT resources. Soon after, the church adopted the national Rainbow Cafe program.
One of the cafe's most popular events are quarterly dances that have grown from 40 attendees to a few hundred, ranging in age from 14 - 19.
“Kevin,” who is transgender, is the deejay for each three-hour event.
The church also has open mic nights and bowling events, fully chaperoned by several screened volunteers and mental health professionals.
“When you think of all the things that it might entail, people might not want to do it," Bocock said. "But the Rainbow Cafe keeps evolving, and we need to keep up with that.”
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