|First Church, Winsted|
I grew up in Winsted, Connecticut. I didn't know anybody who didn't go to church or synagogue, except for my father. His worldview was that “churches are where you find all the hypocrites.” He may have believed in God – he never spoke of things religious, so I’m not sure – but he saw no reason to put on his Sunday-go-to-meetin’ clothes when he could use the time for hunting and fishing.
|Original First Baptist, as it appeared in 1890|
|Second Congregational Church, from a 1909 photograph|
|St. Joseph's Roman Catholic Church, Winsted|
I knew them all. I was hired at sixteen to be the organist at the United Methodist Church. My piano teacher was the organist at Second Congregational, and I went there from time to time just to hear her play, and my boy scout troop met there, as well. Outside of my own home, life was school and church and precious little else.
|United Methodist Church, Winsted|
I was finally home, defending truth against falsehood. What more could one ask of life. I would spend a weekend in New York at some point, checking out Union Theological Seminary. Finally, I had some real religion I could sink my teeth into. And, whether I was just covering all the bases or simply avoiding the dark suspicion there was something too scary to face going on in the sexuality department, I sought refuge in piety. Because there was no Lutheran Church in Middlebury, Vermont, and we had access to the Lutheran Eucharist only once a month when the pastor from the Dartmouth Campus in Hanover made his rounds, I got special dispensation from the Episcopal bishop of Vermont to take communion at St. Stephen’s Episcopal Church in Middlebury, where I started attending every Sunday with my Episcopalian roommate.
|St. James Episcopal Church, Winsted, with the spire of|
the neighboring St. Joseph's RC Church in the background
|Temple Beth El - across the street from First Church|
|The Red Men's Hall (IORM), the|
erstwhile First Baptist Church of Winsted
The IORM is a fraternal organization of pseudo-Indians who considered themselves the sons of the original guys who dumped the tea into Boston Harbor back in the day. They had dressed up as Mohawks, you see. Noble patriots, they considered themselves in time, even though they had evolved into a white-man only organization. Section 1 of their charter reads:
Sec. 1. No person shall be entitled to adoption into the Order except a free white male of good moral character and standing, of the full age of twenty-one great suns, who believes in the existence of a Great Spirit, the Creator and Preserver of the Universe, and is possessed of some known reputable means of support.
My father, bless his heart, thought he was doing me a favor, when I told him I was gay, by introducing me to the bartender at the Red Men's. It wasn't somebody I could relate to, but I had to give my father points for trying. The Red Men's Hall was once known as The First Baptist Church of Winsted, Connecticut. The Baptists sold it to them when they merged with the First Congregationalists, back when my father decided he'd prefer not to associate with hypocrites.
Drinkers, well that's a different story. My father had no beef with drinkers.
6. Second Congregational Church (now Church of Christ, Baptist and Congregational): https://sccwinsted.org/
7. United Methodist Church of Winsted - http://www.unitedmethodistwinsted.org/
8. Temple Beth El - https://www.facebook.com/TBIwinsted/photos/a.1104751802924639.1073741827.1104735709592915/1104751726257980/?type=1&theater