I went to church today

I’ve attended church two (now three) times since taking my religious sabbatical. Given that I attended church every Sunday since I was a child, minus the handful of times I was sick, this has been an interesting experience.

When we first moved to Kirksville, I tried out a Methodist church. It was very friendly, interactive, and refreshingly open about their finances. But I wasn’t ready. I was still dealing with church related PTSD and needed more time.

Three months after moving to St. Louis, I decided to try out the Latter-Day Saint ward. I grew up Mormon, you know, and thought it would be a nice experience. It wasn’t. In fact, the sacrament meeting (or sermon) had all the elements that disillusioned me in the first place. Frankly, I didn’t just leave; I ran.

Today, I decided to attend a different church. One I grew up mocking as a sad break-off from the LDS church: the Community of Christ (formerly RLDS).

The sermon was fascinating. They focused on issues like world hunger, talked about Jesus the entire time, and included passages from scriptures I grew up with (like the Doctrine and Covenants). Included in their program was a financial statement that they update weekly. At the back of their program was this message:

“What kind of good news was Jesus announcing? It was good news of forgiveness from sin, of the promise of eternal life, of restored relationships with God and others. And it was also news of tangible improvements in the lives of poor people. Jesus was bringing freedom from conditions that trap people in poverty, hunger, disease, and powerlessness.”
-Alex Kahtava, emphasis mine

That is the Jesus I understand and will gladly follow.

A man gave the sermon and both women and men passed the sacrament.  Female and male priesthood leaders occupied the stand.  In short, gender did not occlude women’s ability to fully participate in leadership positions and Sabbath services.

I’m still unsure of where my spiritual journey will end, if it ever will; yet, I am enjoying fully exploring my options.

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4 Comments

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4 responses to “I went to church today

  1. Aunt sue

    What a refreshing experience for you this must have been. It’s a real gift to share something like this with a community of faith that is welcoming, familiar, and yet very different from the one that you were so involved with before. and has since Thank you for sharing what you felt; your connectedness (or lack thereof) speaks volumes about the journey we humans have as spiritual beings. It’s a far cry from the black and white mode of some versions of religion, and I think accepting the doubts, complexity and wonder of a truly spiritual life is amazing.
    With much affection and support, Aunt Sue

  2. Katie

    I saw this on a friends wall on Facebook, and I don’t know you, but thank you for posting this. I am in a weird in between place myself with respect to Mormonism. I don’t believe in it anymore, but my husband does, and we have two very young children. I feel some hope from your post, like maybe I don’t have to go on cruise control anymore on Sundays. Can I ask you, how did your extended family accept the news of your sabbatical? I am still going to church every Sunday, but the news of my not believing has launched my family (not my husband, surprisingly) into family councils that I am not invited to, and frequent fasting on my behalf.

  3. Finding the right fit – a church that speaks to your soul with words you know and beliefs you respect and a congregation that is embracing (not standoffish, not too constricting)- that is a big search. It’s interesting in my family since my husband and I were raised differently about church.

  4. ck

    I hope you find what you’re looking for, Amber. I know that when I was on (an extended) religious sabbatical, I always felt like I was floating. The kind of uneasy floating that brings on the desire for an anchor. But even when I found my way back, it wasn’t to a religion, per se. It was just to God.