I followed the now familiar hallway into the living room and hugged group members in greeting. It was my last Accept meeting. We stood in small groups, talking and joking with an easy camaraderie born of intimacy and practice. There was nothing different about this meeting, except that I was having trouble concentrating on what was happening. My attention kept drifting from what group members were saying to the contours of their faces. I knew their stories. I had them written down in neatly catalogued fieldnotes and interview transcripts. But on that last day it felt more important to remember the faces that went with those stories.
The leader’s announcement that it was time for prayer and prayer requests (when individuals asked the group to pray for them with regard to a particular problem or concern) drew my focus back to what was going on. Prayer was the most serious part of the Bible study because it was in prayer that members felt closest to God and most certain of God’s love and guidance. The atmosphere of the room always changed at prayer time; the men’s expressions softened as they turned from discussion to prayer, and their voices took on a greater reverence. The prayer requests at my last meeting were typical—to bring an ill friend to health, to help find a job, to show a mother that her son is not going to hell because he is gay, to pray for a person at church, and to lead a friend struggling with his homosexuality to the truth of God’s love. After these requests were made, we joined hands as we