Friday, March 28, 2008

To Church or Not to Church...

That is the question.  My family and I have been attending the same church for 13 years.  We rarely miss a Sunday.  We sing in the choir, my daughters are acolytes, we've been lay readers and tossed pumpkins.  Yet, I'm seriously considering walking away.  

We're Episcopalians, Catholic-Lite to some.  So much has been going on with the Church as a larger body that no one in my parish talks about.  Our Bishop denounced the consecration of Gene Robinson as Bishop but hasn't done anything towards pulling our Diocese from the Episcopal Church USA.  I was not happy that Bishop Payne felt he could speak for me when I so vehemently disagreed.  But living in Texas, it's hard to find much support when you believe as I do- that homosexuality is not a choice, a lifestyle or a sin.  It's biology.   Or least no support that is willing to stand up and be counted.  

Beyond the issues facing the larger Church, this church doesn't feel like the one I joined 13 years ago.  We've moved into a larger facility, started a preschool and grown tremendously.  The open friendliness that was an essential part of why we stayed is missing.  There is no one thing I can point to and say, this is it.  This is why I may leave this church.  We've gone through three rectors (one interim).  Our new priest, despite the fact that she's just recently celebrated her second anniversary with us, is someone I don't know much about.  She's made lots of changes in a slow and steady fashion that are disturbing when looked at as a whole, at least to me.  She's moving the church towards a more "High Church" feel.  What that means for those of you unfamiliar with the term is that the songs we sing, the rituals used in service and even the robes the choir wears is becoming more formal and more traditional.

Leaving is not a decision I come to easily.  I was very ill last year and the majority of people who visited me in the hospital were people I knew from church.  They came and sat with me, prayed with me or over me, fed my family and generally showed they cared.  Leaving the church means leaving the people I've met over the years.  Still, we don't socialize with these folks or see them outside church and that's as much our fault as anything.

But going to church has become a routine, a habit, that makes very little effect on the rest of my week.  I've never been the type to be overtly religious. It's not a topic I'm real keen to share with most people.  Yet it is something important to me. Finding a new church will be difficult.  Those pesky issues I talked about earlier are effecting all the mainstream churches.  My husband is reluctant to drive any distance to go to church (our current church is only about 2 miles away). So, what will most likely happen, at least in the short term, is that I will be staying home on Sunday mornings.

Should I talk to people at church and risk alienating some?  Or just keep assuming... Well, you know what they say about that.  So, to stay or to go.  That is the question.  No answer yet.

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