First Presbyterian Church of Palo Alto (CA) is a More Light Church with the motto More Life, More Love, More Light on their website. Members of the congregation collaborated together to write a children’s book about same gender marriage and it recently received a Gold Medal in the annual Moonbeam Children’s Book Awards in the Spirit/Compassion category. It all began in a Family Covenant Group which meets twice monthly for potluck and fellowship.
Cynthia Chin-Lee, the author of Operation Marriage, describes how the book came into existence in an email to More Light Presbyterians:
I’m a member of the First Presbyterian Church of Palo Alto (CA). When my friends (gay moms), Kathy and Lee Merkle-Raymond, told me about their marriage in 2008, which was prompted by their kids (Alex and Nicky), I was really touched. I heard their story at our Family Covenant Group which meets twice monthly for potluck and fellowship. Since I am a children’s book writer, I asked their permission to write their story into a fictional picture book and so the book “Operation Marriage” was conceived.
The book was enthusiastically published by fellow church members, Derrick Kikuchi and his husband Craig Wiesner, who own the web business Reach and Teach, which expanded to a brick and mortar store a few years ago. Reach and Teach also publishes two books a year through PM Press.
Many members of the church donated to the printing of the book (so it could be printed in North America) and so it could be hardcover. The illustrator, Lea Lyon, who is local also asked to photograph models that she could base the illustrations on so church members also modeled for the illustrations!
It was truly a labor of love.
Eight-year old Alex has a fight with her best friend, Zach, who says he can no longer be her friend. Why? Because “her parents (both women) aren’t married.” Set in the San Francisco Bay area, months before Proposition 8, a ballot measure banning gay marriage passes, this picture book looks at what it takes for Alex and her younger brother, Nicky, to convince their mothers to get married while they can. Their love as a family is contagious as their neighbors begin to accept them for what they are: a normal, affectionate family.