Some Thoughts About My Church
Last sunday, I was a bit late to church, and when I arrived, the first hymn had already started. So I walked in to this big, cool, clear space filled with singing people, just ringing with sound, and about five of them heard me come in and turned around, and smiled huge smiles at me, and I was reminded of just how much I love coming to church.
My family and I have attended the same church for about eleven years. It’s a United Church of Christ church (different from the church of christ), which means that it’s much more socially relaxed than many American churches. Our mission statement is “No matter who you are or where you are on life’s journey, you’re welcome here.” That means that no matter one’s age, race, income, sexual orientations, gender identity, or spiritual beliefs, everyone is welcome. That’s the most important thing, to me, about my church.
The second most important thing is my church’s commitment to social justice. We fight for causes like environmentalism, civil rights, peace, women’s and LGTB rights, and interfaith communication/acceptance. I learned so much about the world of activism from my church, which is probably clear from this blog.
There are weird interpersonal politics within our church, like in any church. But they don’t take over the life of the congregation; it’s overarchingly a welcoming, spiritually fulfilling space.
It’s very important for me to have a spiritual community; I count people of a wide variety of spiritualities, and lack thereof, among my loved ones, but I need a place where I know we’re all trying to figure it out together, toward roughly the same goal. One thing that’s been powerfully drilled into my consciousness through years of living in a small town with dozens of churches is the depth of the importance of church communities in the community at large- people organize around their places of worship, because they automatically group things of vital importance into the same space. These are the spaces for things we believe in.
It’s a crime that a place of worship can be a place of ostracization, but that’s often what happens. A lot of people remember being taken to church in the same breath as they remember shame, cruelty, even violence. And that will turn anybody off the idea of a healthy spiritual community. But it’s so important to remember that, along the ugly stew of self-doubt and hatred many have come to identify with american christianity, there are also pockets of hope, imperfect but beautiful places where people are just trying to figure things out together.