Ashley Hatten, 29, grew up going to church, but as an adult, her many tattoos and piercings kept her away.
“I felt like I couldn’t walk into any church where they wouldn’t judge me and say, ‘Why is this girl coming in our church?’” the Hattiesburg, Miss., resident says.
In May 2012, a friend invited her to try First Hattiesburg, promising a different experience. Hatten, separated from her husband and looking for something missing in her life, reluctantly agreed.
“There were [greeters] holding the doors, and not one person looked at me like, ‘What is this girl doing walking in here?’” Hatten says. “I didn’t feel like anyone was judging me by the way I looked. I walked in and felt accepted.”
Today, Hatten and her husband are reunited and attending church regularly with their three children, and Hatten is beginning her second year teaching a preschool Sunday school class.
“The parents love and trust me, even with my ‘look,’” she says. “That’s the kind of church it is.” Keep reading