For this recurring feature in eNews, Doug Hoagland, a longtime Fresno Bee reporter, interviews members of our congregation so we can get to know each other better. New profiles run at least once a month. To read other Meet Our Members profiles,
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Felicia and David Rocha, members since 2017
Tell us about yourselves:
Felicia: I was born and raised in Fresno. I’m a preschool teacher, mother of two, wife to David and a lover of this church. I graduated from McLane High School at 15 and had a scholarship to go away to college. But I was too young to leave Fresno, and if I had, I wouldn’t have met David. Everything has a way of working out.
David: I was born in Puebla, Mexico, and came to the U.S. when I was 1½. My mom worked in the cotton fields and she met my stepdad – who I call my dad. They had eight children so I’m the oldest of nine kids. All my brothers and sisters have blond hair and blue eyes, but they’re my family, and I’m very blessed to have such a big family. I graduated from Clovis High School, and I work at Valley Children’s Hospital in the imaging department. I’m blessed to help children medically.
How did you two meet?
Felicia: We actually have a funny story. We met on Valentine’s Day, and I was on a date with another guy. David walked up to us, shook the hand of my date and said, “I’m so sorry to do this to you. But if I don’t do this now, I’ll never forgive myself.” Then he asked me out.
David: She was wearing a Bjork pendant with really colorful beads. I’m a huge fan of Bjork, and the pendant was my cue. I’d seen Felicia around Fresno City College, but we’d never talked.
Felicia: When David asked me out, I turned to my date and said, “I am
sorry.” And I left with David.
David: We had so much in common and immediately had this beautiful conversation. I knew she was my soulmate.
What brought you to Community UCC?
Felicia: We both grew up Catholic, although David had a little more of a mixed background. As adults, neither us went to church. We ran wild for a little while and then settled down and had a family. Our daughter, Aravis, is 13, and our son, Rossi, is 12.
David: But the Lord was always in our hearts.
Felicia: Some friends had a come-to-Jesus moment, and they wanted that for us, too. We felt the presence of the Lord when they were praying with us, and it was life-changing. We ended up at People’s Church, and we had a great time there. It was great for our kids – they have such a good children’s program. But after a while, we were biting our tongues.
David: They’re not open to the LGBTQ community, and they weren’t open to progressive thinking. We’re very supportive of the LGBTQ community, and it’s a big part of our lives.
Felicia: So we stopped going because it just didn’t feel right. We tried other churches, and we couldn’t find a fit. All this time, we were living across from Community UCC, and I walked by every day taking our kids to school. One day I saw the rainbow flag flying here, and a light bulb went off in my head. What it said on the church website spoke to me. We came one Sunday, and we left saying, “This feels like home.”
David: We felt so welcomed, and our children felt so welcomed. It was perfect. It was meant to be.
What church activities have you been involved with?
Felicia: I’m currently vice moderator. I have been chair of the Missions and Social Justice Team, and David and I are youth group leaders.
David: I’m also on the Building and Grounds Team.
What do you find special or different about Community UCC?
Felicia: This church speaks to my heart. I didn’t realize growing up that I’m a natural-born advocate for social justice. I spent my childhood, teenage years and young-adult years arguing with people, saying: “How do you not understand we’re all supposed to be advocates for justice?” When I came here, I realized that maybe I don’t have to argue with everybody. I can make a difference by being in this church. It’s everything I want for my kids.
David: One of the most beautiful gifts you can give your kids is a love for God, and I’ve felt that love here like I’ve never felt it. I almost get tearful thinking of the beauty this church brings into our lives. We’re so glad to finally find a place that speaks to us, is progressive, and has a beautiful relationship with the Holy Spirit and God.
What is your vision for the church?
Felicia: I would love for us to grow. There have to be people out there who’ve walked away from religion, and I want us to spread the word to them and say, “Even when you think there’s no home for you, there is here.”
David: There’s a millennial community that’s not aware of the beauty this church offers. I want us to reach out to them, and when they come, this church will change their lives in ways they can’t even imagine.
What’s one thing about you that might surprise people?
Felicia: I have pretty bad social anxiety. The strange thing is, it never seems to manifest itself when I do anything church-related. God is awesome.
David: I’m a bisexual family man, and I live openly. I want others in the LGBTQ community to know the Lord loves them and they’re welcome here.
How would classmates in high school have described you?
Felicia: Wild (laughter). I was in high school during the ’90s. I was all about raves. I was a party girl.
David: I was a hippy.
Tell me about a favorite musician:
Felicia: David Bowie. I have a David Bowie tattoo on my arm. He has a partner relationship with us. (Laughter)
David: Absolutely David Bowie. When we got married, our wedding song was his “As The World Falls Down.” We have a David Bowie closet in our house.
Felicia: The Bowie Closet has a huge woven tapestry of Bowie that covers the main wall. We have memorabilia, action figures, posters, you name it. It’s like a shrine without the praying (laughter).