August 31, 2011

The Summer of God, otherwise known as: Church Hopping

This has been a busy summer and has been filled with lots of good experiences. Back in the beginning of June I had posted my moving experience going to the morning service at Pride and then Jeff and I made a decision to try to find a place where we could feel comfortable finding God and community. Since I had attended several times with him at First Presbyterian Church (their contemporary service) I'm already familiar with how things work. I particularly like some of their traditional services, like Kirking of the Tartan and of course one of my favorite events, Midnight Christmas Service!

We started out by going back to the First United Methodist Church in SLC a couple of times. The feeling of inclusiveness in that church is unique and there's just a great spirit of unity and diversity there. The pastor is super-friendly and it is a very welcoming place. It really helped that some of our friends are members or sing/play in that church. I particularly love their communion. They stress that a person doesn't have to be a member of the church to participate and it is very moving.

The next church we tried to go was Sacred Light of Christ; we had been there before because a friend was singing. It was a good experience, but frankly, the music there was probably a little too Rock-N-Roll to me, the "Amen!" and "Alleluias" take a little while to get used to and it just felt a little too out of place. Their communion was also nice though, same concept as before, all are welcome, no need to be a member but this time the person who gives you communion prays with you for as long as you need it--a nice, personal touch.

We were supposed to try the Unitarian Church on a given Sunday with Kiley, but she flaked out on us at the last minute--probably a date or something (he, he--just kidding, she was meeting her sister) so it was one of the Sundays that we did a repeat attendance at First United Methodist and ditched plans to to go Unitarian--but I still want to go back and try them one of these days soon, I had attended the Unitarian Church once before but it was more out of not wanting to be home, I really wasn't in the right frame of mind at the time.

The next place we tried was a little hit and miss at first, I have a friend who attends the Cathedral of Hope in Dallas and he seemed to really like it. When I heard that there was going to be a Cathedral of Hope in Salt Lake City I liked their Facebook page immediately and had been following their progress. I met the pastors at Pride and made plans to attend their first gathering, but that coincided with me moving and I missed it. We attended the next Sunday and it was a nice, quaint and personal service. The pastors Marianne and Julie are absolutely adorable and sweet. Granted, there are usually around 10 or less people and by all means the messages, music and feelings are great and personal, as Jeff put it, it is a very GRASS ROOTS community but they're very inclusive, accepting and so far I really enjoy the spirit there. Communion is again very simple, come as you are whether you're a member or not, regardless of what you believe. Of course this church is just starting but until it gets too big it is nice to walk in and have pretty much everyone know your name! :-)

Now the reason we've tried these places is that we've wanted not only a community, but also an affirming church where Jeff and I can attend and not have to remind ourselves to watch out with the occasional reaching and holding each other's back and/or perhaps even holding hands--and just about all of them are (well we haven't asked point blank at First Presbyterian if they are--but they're still very nice and welcoming folks). I've also expressed that although the affirming part is important to me, I also wanted it to feel very much like church, not just any stale, unorganized and general service--if that makes any sense at all!

I have to say in conclusion that my feelings for God (or all things God) have softened much, because I have decided to believe that most of what God does is through other people and at least from the few examples I've seen attending different denominations I've seen how loving and inclusive people are; which again, maybe it is more about my state of mind than the church itself--and of course, I don't think that my search is done, like I said before I would still like to try the Unitarian Church, possibly even Episcopalian and I'd sure like to go to Catholic mass now and then and of course the occasional LDS service when a friend or relative is speaking or has something important going. See? I'm doing much better already, I'm no longer the rabid, anti-God, scum of the earth heathen anymore, I'm starting to clean up a little, one Sunday at a time! 

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