Been pretty busy lately, hiking and all, but I did finally decide to visit a church. I figured it was time for me to visit an affirming church because at least at an affirming church I would not be subject to cheap shots from the pulpit aimed at drumming up support by slamming the LGBTQ people who certainly wouldn’t be willingly sitting at that church. I figured that most churches that are affirming don’t actually preach sermons about gay people, so even though I haven’t exactly figured out what my beliefs are, I would be pretty comfortable there. The list of affirming churches in my community is not very long, so I compiled the list and began to debate which one I should visit first. Many of the churches on the list were very different from churches I had attended in the past. Most were Episcopal. I knew Episcopal churches would feature liturgy and some different ways of doing things so I did some googling to see what I would be in for. Yes yes, I do my homework before darkening the door of any unknown church. After much debate, I picked one. Thinking it probably wouldn’t be the place I would end up, but they are hosting an event that looks interesting (read progressive) and so I felt it would be a safe place to figure out how to navigate an Episcopal service before I visit a place I might actually want to join. What I found there shocked me.
Cloghane: St Brendan’s Church © Copyright Nigel Cox and licensed for reuse under Creative Commons
I find myself embarking on a Church hunt yet again. I’m sure I’ll have more thoughts on this in the future, but for now I just want to express why it is that I felt a need to leave the place I was attending in the first place.
I was raised to believe that Church membership is a commitment not to be trifled with. That could be why I’ve never joined a church. Growing up, my parents were members of a church that practiced believer’s baptism (as opposed to infant baptism), and would baptize teenagers, but reserved membership for those over 18. So I was baptized, but went away to college before I joined that church. That fellowship of churches is rather limited to certain geographic areas, so I find myself now living in a region that doesn’t really have any of those churches. Other denominations I was around growing up practiced believers baptism linked to church membership. Some of these churches had standards of dress and other guidelines for their members – head coverings and plain dresses for the women, restrictions on the colors of cars, no TV, and various other guidelines. It was obviously a big deal when my friends decided to be baptized and join their church when it meant they would be submitting to these guidelines. Continue reading