I was all set to write a whole series of posts on my church shopping experience in my new/old home town. I was coming up with a rating system and everything – e.g, they get 4 Amens or 3 eye-rolls or something of that nature. I know – I would have come up with something better given time.
One thing I’ve wanted to explore in the church scene here is my Mennonite roots. I’ve always felt drawn to my Mennonite heritage but have never regularly attended a Mennonite church. There’s one small one in SF and I met with the pastor, but never visited a service. Here there are several, one large one in particular I’ve wanted to visit. A couple of years ago I read Mennonite in a Little Black Dress and it was great to read someone who knew the food and language of my family’s faith. There’s something very appealing about worshiping alongside an entire congregation who know what zweiback, kielke, and pluma moos is. I’m drawn to the Third Way theology and practice of the Mennonite Church.
When I first decided to make the move back to AZ I did a little online church shopping. I thank Al Gore every day for the gift of the interwebs. Anyway, I started with a search for gay-friendly churches. My thought was that if a church is a welcoming and affirming church (church-speak for “we love the gays”) then I wouldn’t have to ask the question about women or anyone else being in leadership and I could focus on the other things, like Jesus-centered, Bible-opening, decent music, etc.
One of the churches I found is Foothills Christian Church. It is a Disciples of Christ church and it seemed a lot like Mission Bay Community, the church I was part of in San Francisco. The pastor’s name is Erin Wathen and she’s been recognized in the denomination for her preaching. She’s been there since 2006 and is married with 2 young children. She’s from the south and has quite an accent. The website includes a note from her which reads in part:
“Our church founders took a “no creed but Christ” approach to faith in community, and so do we. That said, you might feel at home here if:
- you want your faith journey to engage your intellect, rather than suppress it
- you have friends who are Jewish, Muslim, Buddhist—or whatever—and don’t think that they are going to hell
- you think it is backward and toxic to silence women. Anywhere.
- you think that gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender people are fully human, and should be treated as such
- you are any of the former, and want to be treated with respect and dignity
- you have more questions than answers—and you are ok with that
- you think that discipleship means concern for the poor, more than memorizing scripture
- you think that Democrats and Republicans should be able to worship together
- you further believe that issues like immigration, racism, abortion, and gun control are complex and painful struggles of the human family; that none of our politicians has all the answers; and that a true community of faith should approach these matters with prayerful discernment and sensitivity…
If you are nodding agreement on even a few of these points, then I’ve got good news for you: you are not alone. Your neighbors at Foothills have a place for you at the table. Even if—heaven forbid—you disagree with us about some things.
Come on over and see what God can do with your questions, your doubts, your intellect, and your sense of adventure. You might change your mind about church.”
So far so good. I went to their Saturday night casual service and really liked it – the vibe, the building, the people, everything. I went this morning. Liked it even more. Can it be that I’ve found a church? Should I shop more?
The overall theme of this move has been ease. Everything has fallen into place rather seamlessly – why should the church shopping part be different? I’m still waiting for the other shoe to drop on this whole move thing. Then again, I’ve not yet made it to the DMV,…