I Tried a New Church Today

Here’s a fun fact about me: for the past six months or so, I’ve been exploring different churches and religions looking for a place that reflects my beliefs.

I’m not so optimistic that I think I will find a place that believes exactly the same thing I do. Does a place like that really exist for anyone? Growing up Catholic, I knew a lot of people who considered themselves devoted. Most still picked through their beliefs. No one believed exactly the same thing. That’s not what I think the core of a religious community should be.

In terms of foundational beliefs, I want to find a place that focus on God’s love and its presence in our lives. To me, this includes observance of equal marriage. I know what it’s like to feel like you are wrong and broken (a story for another time). I also know that those feelings are child’s play compared to someone who feels like they have been rejected by family and God for being who they are. They are not defects in the eyes of God and I want to be a part of a community that embraces all genders and sexualities equally.

Second, I want to be a part of a community where I feel I can expand and grow in spirituality. I want to be able to ask questions even if they have no answer. Even more, I want to be able to ask questions and let my relationship with Divinity lead me to my answer instead of some pastor telling me what I’m supposed to think.

Today, D and I went to a church one of my friends grew up in. It’s a Lutheran church which embraces equal marriage. They also provide a choice of services. You can attend traditional worship or contemporary. It was certainly worth a try.

This photo, “church” is copyright (c) 2014 Vik Nanda and made available under an Attribution 2.0 license

The church itself is massive because they have a separate sanctuary for each type of service. They also have a preschool, a café and a small library. D and I arrived early, so we took a look around. We were greeted by a couple of people who talked to us about where we were from and what brought us there. They seemed welcoming, but not overbearing.

The service itself was wonderful. Like Divinity, I can’t adequately explain what I felt. It was a community united in love. The music was fantastic and so was the pastor. He seemed down to earth. You know how some ministers seem to act like they are above the rest of us? This guy was completely different. He read from the Bible and went into great detail about what it all meant. I liked his interpretation of the Book and the comedy he threw in. At one moment, you are laughing and the next you are somberly reflecting on life.

Towards the end, they talked about a bunch of the programs they have going on for the needy and the poor. This isn’t surprising since such activities are popular during the holiday season, but I like it better when such activities make up the foundation of the community. They mentioned that the church gives 10% of all income to the homeless. Not just during the holiday season or in times of surplus, but always.

More than anything else, I was impressed by their core values, which they listed during the service and on their website

  • Prayer is intentional
  • Relationships are caring
  • Worship is passionate
  • Kids matter
  • Teaching is biblical and transformational
  • Spiritual growth is expected
  • Generosity is a way of life

This church was the best I’ve attended since I started to search for a community where I belong. Even D was impressed. We’re planning on going back next Sunday.

I can’t say if this will be the place I stick to, yet. What I can say is that it’s worth hanging around. The place had a good feel and an open heart. I didn’t feel like they were the type to turn someone away for not believing exactly what they do. Instead, they are a place where ‘spiritual growth is expected’ and they open their doors to the journey.

Did you grow up as a part of a religion? Do you still believe in that religion? How have your spiritual beliefs changed? Do you have any desire to be a part of a religious community?

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2 thoughts on “I Tried a New Church Today”

  1. After six months of searching I’m glad that you have had some luck– Something that could work for you.

    I grew up in a conservative religion– Kind of like Rick Santorum–and ended up leaving for that reason. I wasn’t comfortable there at all. But unlike you I was interested in a religion where everyone is on their own personal spiritual journey–the Unitarians. So everyone around you probably has their own belief system, but we are all doing it together, And we can learn from each other.

    1. I went to a few Unitarian services a few months back. I really liked how open they were to every religion. Even when they talked about God, they would say, “God, who some call the light or the spirit.” They talked about different religious holidays like they were all equal in importance.

      I can’t say I had anything bad to say about them except that I just didn’t feel “it.” It was almost but not quite what I wanted. I never expected that I would like a Lutheran church, given how close they are to Catholicism. The jury is still out, though. I can say I liked them at least as much as the Unitarians. I don’t want to claim that this is the community I want in my life until I experience more.

      P.S. I’m glad I’m not the only person out there who came from a super religious family and went out to find a different community that spoke to them. If you’re asking “just how religious is your family,” all you need to know is that my uncle is a Catholic priest. Yeah…. They’re pretty religious.

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