Bob Zimmer: A Private Life Made Public
It is one thing to recount your own story at an Alcoholics Anonymous meeting where one can expect a reception of understanding and acceptance. It is quite another thing to find that same quality of acceptance and understanding in a community of faith. But that is how Bob Zimmer described his encounter with the Lutheran Church of Honolulu, just three blocks from where he lives with his partner, Ray. [It was October 4, 2003, when Bob and Ray had their life together blessed while Pastor David Barber was at LCH.]
It was in 1996 that Bob first walked through the doors of LCH, after being in Honolulu for eight years. He had seen an ad for LCH in a choral program put on by the Gay Men’s Chorus. “The next day I came to LCH and have been here ever since. It happened to be at a time of critical health problems for me. It seemed as though everything was collapsing around me. But eventually I knew that LCH was where I belong.”
Bob appears to be very comfortable with himself, as if he knows himself in a deep way. His deep, hearty laugh is easily recognized as he talks.
Some of that self-understanding must come because he has dared to look at himself closely. Alcoholism, cancer, HIV/AIDS, hepatitis is a part of the list that is included in the medical portion of his biography. [For more about his journey, check his own website he is developing, <survivinghivaids.com>.]
“Being involved more actively with the congregational life helped with my confidence. This is who I am, and if I can help others by sharing my story, I am willing to do it.” He has been active in the Social Ministry Committee, Mary Magdalene group, and was co-chair of the recent pastoral call committee.
“It was being co-chair with Jimmy Castro on that call committee that was the deepest spiritual experience I have had in connection with the church.” That may sound strange to others facing committee assignments. Bob explained: “I [we] had to consider what was good for the whole congregation. It was not about me or what I thought was good for me. But we had to take into account the needs of the whole community, the whole church. We prayed diligently while trusting the leading of God’s Spirit.”
Bob knows that he has found a place where he belongs, where his private life is also public.
Bob was interviewed by Fritz Fritschel
July 24, 2010
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