Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Church Saga - how I ended up where I am.

I keep meaning to go back to writing but then I try to figure out what I will write about. The main issue I am dealing with and that is consuming nearly every moment - awake and sleeping - is church. It may not be interesting for anyone else to read but it helps me to write it out here.

I didn't grow up going to church. My interactions with organized religion started in high school when I went with a friend to a very strict orthodox church. I found myself strangely attracted to the concept of religion and the beliefs, but I did not like that particular religion. It was led by a very male-dominate minister. He taught that women should stay home, not work, home-school, and above all follow the man of the house. Women could teach children but never adults. Surprisingly I didn't totally run the other way entirely.

In college I started attending an on-campus Christian organization. It was non-denominational and we actually attended different types of churches almost every week. I began to see what type of worship styles I liked and what I did not.

My husband grew up in a very small methodist church. It was family run with one or two families controlling everything. Since the pastor rotated through every three to five years, the same families stayed in control and became further entrenched.

When Husband and I started visiting churches, we liked the structure of the Baptist churches. There seemed a good balance between pastoral control and congregational control. When we moved to our present location, we noticed a church fairly close to our house and decided to visit. We felt a fit and never visited elsewhere.

Fast-forward ten years and we are still in that church. I became a trustee which is the board that handles the legal affairs - signs documents, contracts, loans, holds the title of the property. My husband is a deacon which is a spiritual leader of the church. We've both taught Sunday school and are active with the children's programs. Most of our local friends are members of the church. We go to church on Sunday mornings and Wednesday evenings. Most of our holiday activities are built around church. Our children look forward to Easter egg hunts, fall festivals and summer camps.

If you've read this blog for any length of time, you'll understand why I have issues with male authority figures. Over the past ten years, my pastor has broken through some of my self-erected walls and I trusted him. In the last two months, more has happened to break that trust than ever before.

This past week I resigned from all positions of leadership in church. We attended a different church this past week and are looking for a new church. I used to think people who talked about nasty church splits were overly dramatic but now I see what a struggle it really is. I'm also seeing how issues raised now are intertwining and stepping on my toes which are already sensitive from abuse. Now the question becomes how to process all this and deal with it? This is where writing comes in. I hope to sort things out and go forward from here with some clarity.


From Tracie said...

I grew up in church. Went through an awful experience with a youth minister in my teens that rocked my faith and changed my life. Many of my friends have never returned to church since that time.

I spent a lot of years visiting churches on Sundays but afraid to form relationships with anyone there. I was too hurt and too scared.

Eventually that changed and I did find a new church home, one where I was involved, and loved. My husband became a deacon, and eventually an associate pastor, and I worked there as well. We were there for a while before the pastor moved and everything broke apart.

At this point, my husband hasn't returned to church in several years. He is still very hurt and confused. My daughter and I go (we live in a different city now)but it is still hard.

I'll be praying for you.

beauty said...

I like to read about the spiritual journeys of others.

It's so devastating when something happens to cause you to not trust or respect your pastor any more. Resigning from those church positions was a good stance to take, as was looking elsewhere for a place to fellowship.

misssrobin said...

I hope you find what you are looking for. A place of peace and safety.

Writing is the best form of precessing for me. Finally seeing patterns and things as they really are. I hope it works for you.

Anonymous said...

I like the new look. I do feel your pain Enola...different circumstances to be sure, but 15 years after leaving a church, an occassional wave of heartache will still wash over my soul I can trace directly back to that situation. "Born again" Christians (I use that term loosely) can be the most mean spirited and vicious people you will ever meet. I've seen enough @ this point to cause me to stay somewhat detached from any local church that is places too much emphesis on " authority"