Volume No. 15 Issue No. 8 August 2018  

  Faces of Black Forest
  Pastor offers an all-inclusive place of worship

     Marta Fioriti, the new pastor of Black Forest Community Church, said the church is small but mighty.
   "They act more like a verb than a noun," she said. "I've never been in a church that has been so active and so strong in what they do."
   Fioriti became pastor in mid-April; she previously was minister of faith formation at Broadmoor Community Church in Colorado Springs. Both churches are members of the United Church of Christ.
   BFCC has declared itself an "open and affirming" church. "No matter who you are or where you are in life's journey, you're welcome in this space," Fioriti said. In particular, she said she wants to reach out to people who are "on the margins" ó those who because of race or ethnicity or age or sexual preference "donít feel at the center of privilege."
   That welcoming spirit attracted Fioriti to the job at BFCC. The daughter of an Italian immigrant, she grew up in Washington, D.C. Ė- a diverse community that was "super open,Ē she said. When she went off to college in West Virginia, she remembers being shocked by a friend who told her she didn't want LGTB people in her church.
   "That was the first time I had ever heard anything like that," Fioriti said. "I remember saying, 'What do you mean? Who cares?'"
   That innate concern for those "not like the rest" eventually drove her to the United Church of Christ. While her family wasn't what she would call particularly religious, "I think we appreciated what church meant and what it was about, and what it was trying to do in the world."
   She was active in the United Methodist Church. After she earned her bachelor's degree in Christian education at Wesleyan College in West Virginia, the church gave her a full scholarship to attend Wesley Theological Seminary in D.C. But she struggled with the church's attitude toward the LGTB community, and decided she needed a break after her first year at the seminary.
   While Fioriti did not complete her education at Wesley (she later earned her masterís of arts in pastoral and spiritual care from Iliff School of Theology in Denver), she did meet her husband, Roger Butts, at Wesley. They have three kids: Norah, 15, Nick, 14, and Nina, 11.
   The family lived in Davenport, Iowa, before coming to Colorado Springs in 2009 so Butts could lead High Plains Church. He is now a full-time staff chaplain with Penrose-St. Francis Health Services. Fioriti's first job in the Springs was at First Congregational Church.
   Does the couple often talk shop? "Thatís all we talk about, mostly," Fioriti said, with a laugh. "If itís not church, itís justice issues; itís political issues that ground us in our values."
   One issue close to her heart is immigration. As the daughter of an immigrant, Fioriti said she has a ďvery personal messageĒ that she shares with the community.
   She has a blog post to share her message. "Today, I showed up for my Papa who immigrated in the late sixties to this country a few years before I was born to him as an American," she wrote in June, after attending a protest on the steps of Colorado Springs' City Hall. "I would forever be a first generation Italian. I showed up for his Papa who came to America, twice at the turn of the twentieth century to make some money and then return to the old country.†Today, I showed up for the Africans, ripped from their land, to unknown hospitality.†I showed up for the Italian and Irish immigrants, who only wanted to work. Work with their hands, work with their strong backs, just work.†Today, I showed up for the Japanese, the Mexicans, the El Salvadorians.†Today, I showed up for the children who lay in tents and detention centers this very week."
   Fioriti acknowledged that generally she has to walk a fine line when addressing hot-button issues because she has to respect that people are "on a spectrum of beliefs."
   "This is an extremely complicated time to do ministry," she said.
Marta Fioriti is the new pastor of Black Forest Community Church. The rainbow flag that hung above the church door this summer marked LGTB Pride Month. Photo by Bill Radford.
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