Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Church. Gulp.

While I keep this blog mostly secular in nature, I am not a secular person. I call myself a Christian, but I also have some new-age beliefs.

Thomas has always had some version of a bible, from the children's bible and now he has one geared toward teens. He reads it on his own when he feels the need. He has read the child bible a few times.

Many, many times he has asked to start going to church.

I don't like organized religion. I guess I have nothing against it, but I've personally never had good experiences with it. Now knowing that I have an anxiety disorder, I look back and see that anxiety has always been on high when I was at church.

My mother taught me that my religions beliefs were just that, mine. She allowed me to go to church. I went to the Church of Christ as a younger child, which was my favorite. In elementary school years I attended The First Congregational Church. That was okay. In junior high, I went to a Baptist church with my friend. Until, that is, the preacher told me I would burn in hell unless I joined their church. Mom had to do some damage control after that. And I did not go to church again until I was an adult.

As an adult, after Bob and I married, we attended a WELS church. Wisconsin Evangelical Lutheran Synod. As the judge I used to work for, who was the son of an Assembly of God minister, told me: the WELS is the strictest of all churches. He was right.

Bob and I attended for about a year. It wasn't very welcoming, well, the congregation wasn't. The pastor used to ring our doorbell at odd times, always unannounced. He came frequently. I found it highly annoying. I took classes to join the church.

In the midst of those classes, my Mom died. The pastor was an ass, and said some things to me that I have never been able to get over and forget. Bob and I agreed to quit going. And we did.

Thomas has been asking to go to church for several years. My mom had it right: she let ME choose. I'm not letting Thomas choose, though. I'm not being open minded.

He asked me again today if I would take him to church.

Last summer, after he'd been begging, I met the pastor of the local WELS church at the county fair, talked with him at length, told him my husband grew up in that church, attended that church's private high school 400 miles from his home. I neglected to tell him that Bob had some issues with his church. I wrote my name and number down. We talked at length, and I felt uneasy, but at least I knew Bob would go with us (to help me through my fear, because I'm really uncomfortable in churches.)

The pastor never contacted us. He said he would. I felt slighted. Now, I'm a big girl, I knew where the church was, and I darned well could have gone to a service. In fact, one morning Thomas and I staked out the church, 15 minutes before services started, and watched to see who went in. It's a very small congregation.

In my heart, though, I knew it wasn't the right church. They're anti-woman. (Okay, let me rephrase that: their interpretation of the bible is anti-woman.) No women pastors and the women in the congregation can't vote on church decisions.

Obviously, that wasn't the right choice.

So that leads me to today. I guess I wouldn't mind going to church, if I found the right one. They have to be true Christians, and not anti-this, anti-that and I don't want to be preached hate.

I have no idea where to look. I think the Methodist church might work or me, BUT...this is a small town and frankly, there are people there I DO NOT LIKE. Isn't that awful? Thomas and I went to a mom's group when he was 4 at the local Methodist church. The kids were awful. And because it's a small town, I have kept up with these kids, and I really don't want to be around them or have Thomas around them.

So, that's out.

Anything having to do with the Baptists is out.

There's no UU in our town.

The other Lutheran synods -- there's only one I would consider. I'm not a Lutheran, though, my husband is.

Big church? Small church? What kind? I don't know what half the churches believe. What is an Evangelical Covenant church? Episcopal? Apostolic Fellowship?

Which church would I have to do the least damage control with Thomas? I'd like him to be involved with youth groups. I'd like him to learn about the bible. That way, he can make an informed decision on his religious path. Just like Mom did for me.

I just don't want him coming home hating gays, liberals, rock 'n roll, women, etc.

Another thing that a church would provide is an opportunity for service. I was always very service orientated as a child. I volunteered a lot, and enjoyed it. Our town is so small, that there would be more opportunities for service projects through a church than individually volunteering.

So if any of my readers can make some suggestions, I'd appreciate it.

I hold my religion close. I don't like talking about it. You'll never find me quoting bible passages, except the one about worrying about someone else's splinter when you have a log in your own eye. lol I still want secular curriculum. I'll still gravitate toward the secular or heathen boards. I am and will still be the same as I've been here.

But I can do this for Thomas. I just don't know where to go, which would be less prejudiced and judgmental. Where I would feel comfortable, with my anxiety issues.

???

9 comments:

Mama B said...

check progressive christians - the churches that are on the affiliate list are few and far between but perhaps you could find some like minded people at least.

That's a really tall order for a church even here near Iowa's Capitol city I've only found two that meet most of that list one is the UU and one is a progressive christian church. In my case both are at distances that I'm less inclined to drive consistently.

We belong to the local Methodist church and I'll say this much the tone very much depends on the pastor. The last one was not what I would call welcoming to all in any way. We've got a new one but I've not worked up my courage to check him out yet. He does get points for contacting my husband about meeting with our family. (He won't contact me because the break between the church and myself is a bit more fjord like at the moment LOL)

Meg_L said...

Have you looked for an Episcopal church?

Some of the more liberal people I know are members and they are where the Methodist Church came from.

Elisheva Hannah Levin said...

Hi, Frankie,

I may be sticking my foot in it, being that I am a Jew! But here goes anyway! Have you thought about one of the sacramental-based churches--like the Episcopalians? The Boychick's BSA troop meets at such a church and they seem sensible in their approach to people and to religion. They do not tend to be as over the top on the 'welcoming' factor, but there are benefits from that in that they don't expect their members to be all alike. Just a thought.

Good luck.
In our case, we pretty well had to choose the synagogue here that has the best education--and then it declined somewhat in the past years. We have a new Educator now, so I am hoping it gets better!

Wendy Hawksley said...

Wow. Tough question. Because I'm Pagan and hubby is Christian (grew up ELCA), we got to the UU. But we didn't have a UU in our area of 9 years. We are considered part of the group of founders now.

Hopefully you will find a lovely, liberal Christian church that focuses on the Biblical messages of love and good deeds. Back home (in Massachusetts), Congregational churches always were the norm. I don't know what they are like (even though my paternal family was always in one, just not my dad), but I am under the impression that they tend to be fairly liberal.

jesnicole said...

I JUST FOUND YOUR BLOG OFF OF THE WELL-TRAINED MIND WEBSITE. I'M SORRY YOU'VE HAD SUCH BAD EXPERIENCES WITH CHURCHES. WE'RE INVOLVED IN A CHURCH, AND THE ONE THING WE'VE COME TO FIND IS THAT PEOPLE ARE PEOPLE. ONE OF MY HUSBAND'S OLDER FRIENDS ONCE TOLD HIM, "IF THERE WERE A PERFECT CHURCH, WOULD YOU BE PART OF IT?". AND WE THINK OF THAT OFTEN. WE'RE PART OF A BAPTIST CHURCH (I KNOW YOU SAID THAT WAS OUT FOR YOU, THOUGH.) AND FOR NOW, IT'S LIKE A DIAMOND IN THE ROUGH. THERE ARE ALWAYS BUMPS IN THE ROAD FOR US HERE, BUT THE COMMUNITY IS A LOVING GROUP OF PEOPLE THAT LOVE GOD. I KNOW IT'S TOUGH TO FIND SOMEWHERE, THOUGH. (WE SPENT OVER TWO YEARS AT ONE POINT FINDING SOMEWHERE TO SERVE) EVERYONE THINKS THEY'RE RIGHT, THEY READ THE BIBLE THE "RIGHT" WAY, AND OTHERS ARE WRONG....I BELIEVE JESUS IS THE WAY, THE TRUTH, AND THE LIFE.....AND I BELIEVE IN SHOWING HIS LOVE AND GRACE TO ONE ANOTHER. IF IT WEREN'T FOR KNOWING HIM AND THE HOPE I HAVE IN HIM, THERE'S NO WAY I WOULD'VE MADE IT THROUGH LAST WINTER WHEN I LOST MY MOMMA IN A VERY TRAUMATIC EVENT.

I ALSO BELIEVE HE CREATED HIS PEOPLE TO LIVE IN DIVERSITY, WHICH IS SUCH A BEAUTIFUL THING. WE TRY TO LIVE OUR LIVES THAT LINE UP WITH WHAT JESUS SAID WERE THE TWO GREATEST COMMANDMENTS, "LOVE GOD WITH ALL YOUR HEART, SOUL, MIND AND STRENGTH...AND LOVE YOUR NEIGHBOR AS YOURSELF...". AND EVERYONE IS OUR NEIGHBOR. I KNOW YOU DIDN'T ASK FOR ALL THAT, BUT I JUST GOT TO TYPING. I HOPE YOU FIND WHAT YOU'RE LOOKING FOR FOR YOURSELF, AND FOR YOUR SON. I PRAY FOR PEACE FOR YOU AND YOUR FAMILY. "LITTLE CHILDREN, LET US NOT LOVE WITH WORD OR WITH TONGUE, BUT IN DEED AND TRUTH." -I JOHN 3:18-

SabrinaT said...

Good Luck! I know you will find the right place for you and Thomas..

Kate in NJ said...

I have no advice for you on this, just a ((BIG HUG)) and the hope that you can find what you are looking for..even if only for Thomas.

Sara said...

Well, I might suggest that you try Episcopalian or try the local Methodists even though you don't like some of the people. Also, you could look to join an online religious community if there are none locally that will work for you. The UU's have the Church of the Larger Fellowship online for people who don't have a church nearby. Perhaps other denominations do that also. Good luck!

Tammy C. said...

I'd like to encourage you in your journey to find a church and point out that in searching for a place to worship God, we must always make sure that the worship offered is what is pleasing to God, and not what pleases us. The New Testament tells us what is pleasing to God in how we worship and provides us through example with the knowledge we need to choose a church that is pleasing to God. I do have to disagree with you, though, on your thoughts concerning participation of women in the worship service. Scripture teaches otherwise...check out 1 Corinthians 14:34,35 and 1 Timothy 2:12. Many people will argue that this was simply a tradition practiced by the culture at that time. But if you read your Bible in accordance to that theory, how do you discern what is meant for you and what was meant for the people of that time. Man is fallible and when we try to make that division, we all fall short. God formed the Bible for all peopl e of all time. Okay, I sense I'm getting carried away..I often do...know that I speak in love in the hopes of helping another soul reach heaven. I would suggest that you read the New Testament, especially Acts, Hebrews, and Paul's letters to the churches and there you will find examples of groups of saints (local churches) in obedience to God's will. Have a blessed day!