visiting churches

I visited a new church on Sunday. It's a church I'd never been to before, not even when I lived in Chapel Hill way back when. In fact, it's vastly different from any place I went to before.

The church scene in the area is a little different, as could be expected given the years I've been away. The place I used to attend is no longer around, and the pastor there isn't in the area anymore, either. What's more, I'm in a very different place, spiritually.

I mostly grew up in a conservative Lutheran church. When I came here for college, I felt like I was "escaping" the restrictions of the church. I wanted to be somewhere that wasn't so strictly liturgical. I dabbled a lot in some willy-nilly nondenominational free-form churches for a while. That was great while it lasted - I could go to church barefoot and play my djembe and experience the awesomeness of a loving, smaller congregation. But eventually realized that I missed some aspects of the church environment I'd left. There was a sense of reverence that I kept yearning for - church felt more like a fellowship and less like a time of worship. Fellowship is certainly important, and I don't ever want to be a part of a church that doesn't feel like family, but it's no longer the only thing that will get my bum in a pew. (And I want it to be a pew, not a chair!)

I'm currently a member of the PCUSA, which is the direct result of marrying a PCUSA minister. Now that that marriage isn't really a factor anymore, I'm in a position to go anywhere and do anything I want, without restrictions or expectations. I don't plan to stick to the PCUSA now (get burned the way I have by a clergy member, and you might not stick around, either), and I think maybe it's time to revisit the church of my past.

Right now, I'm looking for reverence and worship during the service, and a sense of family at all other times. I want to be somewhere steeped in liturgy, with hymns on an organ and communion every week. And I want to be known by my fellow congregants. I want Gabriel to be known and cared about. I want a place where I can ask my questions and contribute my talents and be a part of something that goes beyond the 11am hour on Sunday mornings.

So for now, I'm poking around the Anglican scene. I visited an Episcopal church not far from where I live. I'll probably spend another Sunday there, and then see what happens after that. Some things I liked on Sunday: loads of babies making noise in the service; the Anglican cycle of prayer. Something I didn't like so much: the crucifix. (A crucifix? In a protestant church? I'm hoping the pastor will call me, as I requested on my visitor card, because I'm wondering about that.)

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