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Switch to Forum Live View Is there a church for me?
3 years ago  ::  Jul 24, 2011 - 9:04PM #1
AliciaAvocado
Posts: 1
I was raised in a conservative Southern Baptist church. As I got older and began to form my own opinions about the world, I realized that my values and the values of the church that my family attended were not compatible. As soon as I was old enough that my parents could not force me to go, I stopped. I have considered myself agnostic for the last 10 years or so.

When I attended church, I thought it was boring. When I prayed, I never felt anything. I never felt like there was any presence in the church - it was just a building. A few years ago my mother got involved with an even more fundamentalist church than the one my family attended during my childhood, and she read the Left Behind books and attended classes about the End Times, Rapture, etc. This motivated her to try to "save" me, and created a lot of resentment on my part (since our relationship was damaged by this situation).

I thought I was content with my decision to say that I didn't know for sure if there was a God and be agnostic. I have my personal values and they work for me. But, over the last six months or so I have started to ask myself if I am really sure. I wondered if maybe I was turned off of Christianity by the fundamentalist experience I had growing up (and the impact to the relationship between my mother and myself), and thought maybe I should give God another chance.

I did some research and found that there are Progressive Christians and liberal mainline protestant churches. I visited an Episcopal church, and I liked the fact that the message was very positive (no doom and gloom, the world is going to hell in a handbasket sermon) and the people were friendly and welcoming. But I still didn't feel anything, and I still have some qualms.

I'm very liberal, politically. I'm a feminist and pro-choice. I'm not gay, but I think being gay is perfectly natural and A-OK. I think there is ample scientific evidence to support the theory of evolution. I don't think the bible should be taken literally - I think it's a historical document resulting from a long oral tradition and should be looked at in the context of the time from which it originates. I think some of it is frankly offensive, sexist, and violent and should be read critically.

These are my values. I am comfortable with them and they work for me. Am I kidding myself? Are these values consistent with even the most Progressive form of Christianity?

I ask this very sincerely because I don't want to try to make Christianity something it's not. I know there is a difference between being religious and being spiritual, and maybe that's where I am.

Maybe what I'm really looking for is a sense of community, and maybe I need to look elsewhere. Tell me if you think that is so.

I'm asking here because I don't really know any Progressive Christians. All of my family members are fundamentalists, and most of my friends are atheists or adherents of a non-Christian religion. I've only visited the Episcopal church here twice, and don't feel comfortable asking anyone there these questions.
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3 years ago  ::  Jul 24, 2011 - 10:28PM #2
Stardove
Posts: 15,178

AliciaAvocado, a lot of what you have to say I could say because I have been there.  Raised in the Southern Baptist Church and as a young adult no longer felt the message was one of love.  My mom is still in the same church, but accepts who I am spiritually.  It took a while for this to happen, but we always continued to have a loving relationship.


I found community at Unity Churches for many years, although I no longer have a church home.  It is one church you may find what you are looking for.  It is what I consider a Progressive Christian church which shares a very positive message about living life today.


Other members will share their experiences with you.  The forum can be slow, so I suggest you click on the subscribe above on the right in the orange blocks.  That way if someone posts here you will get an email from Beliefnet.


May you find what you are searching for and do not forget to look within for that is where you will find your Divinity.


 


 

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3 years ago  ::  Jul 28, 2011 - 1:01AM #3
cmkeel
Posts: 2

Hi Alicia. Given your values below, I would say that should feel right at home at a number of Christian denominations. The Episcopal Church is great, in my opinion, and it is a very progressive branch of the Anglican church. You may also check out the United Church of Christ (the denomination that I'm a part of), nationally, it is also progressive, with values consistent with you own. The UCC is very congregational in nature, so the values of particular churches can vary greatly. But overall, I've found it to be a very welcoming and accessible church. Here are a few others you might try: American Baptist; Disciples of Christ; Presbyterian Church USA; Evangelical Lutheran Church of America (don't be put off by the evangelical part. It's a very liberal and progressive denomination). All of these are mainline protestant denominations, which tend to be more liberal/progressive in nature.


You said that you were looking for a sense of community. If this is your main priority and the christian designation is not essential or very important to you, you might give the Unitarian Universalist Church a try. I've attended a number of them over the years and found them to be a wonderful group.


I hope you are successful in your journey! Blessings to you and yours!


 


 


 


Jul 24, 2011 -- 9:04PM, AliciaAvocado wrote:



I'm very liberal, politically. I'm a feminist and pro-choice. I'm not gay, but I think being gay is perfectly natural and A-OK. I think there is ample scientific evidence to support the theory of evolution. I don't think the bible should be taken literally - I think it's a historical document resulting from a long oral tradition and should be looked at in the context of the time from which it originates. I think some of it is frankly offensive, sexist, and violent and should be read critically.

These are my values. I am comfortable with them and they work for me. Am I kidding myself? Are these values consistent with even the most Progressive form of Christianity?




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3 years ago  ::  Aug 30, 2011 - 8:32AM #4
tawonda
Posts: 4,367

Alicia, you'd also be welcome in the ELCA (my denomination), the United Church of Christ, the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ)...mainline Christian denominations. (In any church body, including the ones perceived as traditionally progressive, you'll find a continuum of social conservatism/liberalism just depending on individual congregations' makeup and history...but you can still make some generalizations.)


Evolution is just a non-starter in mainline Protestant Christianity; it's a non-issue. Mainline denominations that I can think of are also well past the debate about gender roles within or without church walls. While you still find even generally progressive Christians who for various reasons angst about partnered gay folks in church leadership positions, you're not going to find most mainline churches getting all upset about Teh Gayz.


*Mainline Protestant = churches whose theological pedigree tends to lead in a fairly uninterrupted path back to the Reformation, whose church bodies have had a long history in this country: The Episocpal Church; the Presbyterian Church in the USA; the United Church of Christ (whose roots were largely, but not exclusively, in the New England Puritan tradition); the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ); the United Methodist Church (although I think there's more of a liberal-conservative continuum among Methodists -- it's just a very big denomination. And the Methodists in my part of the world are more like conservative Baptists than the generally moderate/progressive picture I have of the denomination as a whole); the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America ("Evangelical" in the European "not-Roman-Catholic" sense, not in the contemporary American sense) the American Baptist Church, which is a whole 'nother animal than the Southern Baptist Convention.


 

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3 years ago  ::  Sep 17, 2011 - 5:54PM #5
MsTopaz
Posts: 395

Alicia,


I absolutely think you'd fit in Progressive Christian churches. Since I've moved around the country so much, I have found some of them. Here are some examples of the type of churches I think you'd find congruent with your values:


St. John's Episcopal Cathedral - Denver, CO


Grace Cathedral - San Francisco, CA


Trinity Episcopal Cathedral - Portland, OR


St. Paul's United Methodist - Houston, TX


All Saints - Pasadena, CA


There are a lot more, but those are the ones that come to mind first.


Hope that helps!

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3 years ago  ::  Sep 19, 2011 - 3:35PM #6
Stardove
Posts: 15,178

MsTopaz, welcome to the Progressive Christians forum.  I hope you will enjoy your time here and at the site.

Beliefnet Community Wide Moderator ~ Peace Love Stardove
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3 years ago  ::  Sep 19, 2011 - 8:36PM #7
MsTopaz
Posts: 395

Sep 19, 2011 -- 3:35PM, Stardove wrote:


MsTopaz, welcome to the Progressive Christians forum.  I hope you will enjoy your time here and at the site.




 


Thank you!

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3 years ago  ::  Nov 06, 2011 - 12:03PM #8
DebAB
Posts: 1

You could be me!  Thank you for writing this letter.  Unfortunately, I also live in rural America.  In order to go to a chruch I might like, I would have to drive thirty minutes or more.

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3 years ago  ::  Nov 06, 2011 - 12:22PM #9
Stardove
Posts: 15,178

Nov 6, 2011 -- 12:03PM, DebAB wrote:


You could be me!  Thank you for writing this letter.  Unfortunately, I also live in rural America.  In order to go to a church I might like, I would have to drive thirty minutes or more.




Welcome to the forum Deb.  I hope you will find community here at Beliefnet.  Sometimes, it is worth the drive, other times it might not be in my own experience.

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