Sunday, November 12, 2006

It's been almost six years since I attended and belonged to a church on a regular basis. I stopped going to church almost six years ago because "I felt" betrayed and abandoned by my pastor and the congregation while I was going through my divorce. I never intended to stay away as long as I have but, to be blunt, I haven't missed going to church, which surprised me, because I was a active member of the Evangelical subculture for over twenty five years. Over the past couple of years, I have attended Catholic mass on a number of different occasions but have been unable to get passed the "exclusive nature" of the Catholic tradition. I have tried on several occasions to discuss/engage some of my Catholic friends regarding the exclusivity of the Catholic tradition but everyone seems content to just keep the status quo. I can understand the desire or psychological need to maintain personal peace, at almost any cost, but "I" am presently not in the mood to join or participate, on a regular basis, any organization that does not reflect the values that are critically important to me. I know we, and the church at large, are all imperfect but I frankly don't see the point in supporting institutions that have institutionalized ideas and practices that contradict the core values I support. I'm all for working within the system to try to bring about change, but, I have been there and done that, and now feel it is time to move on and see if I can find a church that better suits what "I" am passionate about these days.

Yesterday I attended a local Congregational church and in the weeks to come I intend to visit the local Methodist and Presbyterian churches. I have attended all these mainline churches before but I want to give them another look. Mainline churches in my neck of the woods are a dying breed but I just don't see myself going back to mainstream evangelicalism anytime soon. The Congregational Church is the current front runner because I enjoy the pastor and the spirit of the services. The pastor is a woman who generally encourages the congregation to get involved in community service without heaping on guilt or shame and she has yet to bad mouth or bash other Christians or the culture at large. Over the years I grew tired of the constant barrage against the culture and left leaning politicians and theologians...and...later grew increasingly disturbed by what I feel was an unfair characterization of those folks who didn't see the world from a conservative Christian perspective. I came to this conclusion after reading for "myself" what the various non evangelicals had to say for themselves and felt there was a significant amount of distortion being distributed on a regular basis....All of the mainline congregations in Bakersfield are smaller than I generally like but maybe I can get to know some of the folks more on a personal basis....My recent decision to explore some of the local churches is based on a personal need. At the present time I don't have much of a social network outside of work and family therefore I feel the need to build some relationships with adults who are like minded. I don't know where this is going to lead, if anywhere, but I will give it a whirl. It's not easy trying to establish adult relationships when you are divorced and pushing 50 but I figure it is better than just sitting around and doing nothing....

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